All posts by Jessica Taylor

David Jhave Johnston’s "Sooth"

I will admit that I first read the title of David Jhave Johnston's piece very quickly and thought that it was "soothe" and not "Sooth". Therefore, during my first reading, I spent a lot of time thinking, "This is not at all soothing...".

And isn't that the truth! "Sooth" is a collection of six love poems, but does not read like a typical love poem might. That is because the accompanying audio and visual elements are at times off-putting, even jarring.

The Electronic Literature Collection catalogs the piece as "one of a growing number of works that seek to integrate algorithmically animated, interactive text with rich video imagery". The visual element in this piece consists of six different, very close-up videos of scenes ranging from snow, to a fish, to a sleeping--half asleep?--woman. The six different poems and their accompanying videos are titled "Sooth", "Weeds", "Body", Root", "Soul", and "Snow".

In each section, accessible by clicking a tab on the left side of the screen, a video plays and text appears on the screen when the user clicks the mouse. Audio is also incorporated throughout. While the text moves continuously, it seems that in some sections the text's initial placement is effected by the placement of the cursor. Other times, it seems like the placement is random or pre-determined. Sometimes, the text overlaps the previously placed text, and the words become unreadable. In these cases, I felt like I was trying to chase moving lines across the screen in order to read them. This had an effect on my ability to understand the meaning behind the words.

While navigating the piece, I also noticed that the sound changes in volume throughout the videos. In "Soul" I was confronted with a high-pitched noise at a very high volume. It was so jarring that I had to remove my earbuds.

Although this piece was a collection of six love poems, my overall impression was that it was a little eerie... I think that my perception of the piece was influenced by the nature of the videos (all very close up and random), the occasional unbearable, high-pitched noises, and the constantly moving text. The energy of the piece was at times overwhelming and bordering on frantic. Not at all "soothing" ;)


David Jhave Johnston’s "Sooth"

I will admit that I first read the title of David Jhave Johnston's piece very quickly and thought that it was "soothe" and not "Sooth". Therefore, during my first reading, I spent a lot of time thinking, "This is not at all soothing...".

And isn't that the truth! "Sooth" is a collection of six love poems, but does not read like a typical love poem might. That is because the accompanying audio and visual elements are at times off-putting, even jarring.

The Electronic Literature Collection catalogs the piece as "one of a growing number of works that seek to integrate algorithmically animated, interactive text with rich video imagery". The visual element in this piece consists of six different, very close-up videos of scenes ranging from snow, to a fish, to a sleeping--half asleep?--woman. The six different poems and their accompanying videos are titled "Sooth", "Weeds", "Body", Root", "Soul", and "Snow".

In each section, accessible by clicking a tab on the left side of the screen, a video plays and text appears on the screen when the user clicks the mouse. Audio is also incorporated throughout. While the text moves continuously, it seems that in some sections the text's initial placement is effected by the placement of the cursor. Other times, it seems like the placement is random or pre-determined. Sometimes, the text overlaps the previously placed text, and the words become unreadable. In these cases, I felt like I was trying to chase moving lines across the screen in order to read them. This had an effect on my ability to understand the meaning behind the words.

While navigating the piece, I also noticed that the sound changes in volume throughout the videos. In "Soul" I was confronted with a high-pitched noise at a very high volume. It was so jarring that I had to remove my earbuds.

Although this piece was a collection of six love poems, my overall impression was that it was a little eerie... I think that my perception of the piece was influenced by the nature of the videos (all very close up and random), the occasional unbearable, high-pitched noises, and the constantly moving text. The energy of the piece was at times overwhelming and bordering on frantic. Not at all "soothing" ;)


Hobo Lobo of Hamelin

    Hobo Lobo of Hamelin, created by Stevan Živadinović, is a digital pop-up book of sorts. It combines sound, animation and illustrations that give the illusion of something 3D. According to the editorial statement on the Electronic Literature Collection site, the piece is an adaption of the Pied Piper--  a modern "mixture of European folktale, political satire, and internet snark".

    The work is visually compelling. The images are a combination of what look like pencil drawings in muted, black and white color schemes, and bursts of darkened vibrant colors. Some of the images "pop up" at the reader, while others are animated such as the psychic's crystal ball.

    In order the navigate the work, the reader clicks on "pages" and numbers at the top of the screen. The piece is not broken up into traditional pages; instead, as the reader clicks through, the story glides seamlessly forward. The plot of the story involves a mayor who's town has a "rat problem". These modern rats are drugged up criminals. After the mayor visits a psychic who has told him that he must hire a professional to solve the problem, Hobo Lobo comes to town offering "professional services". The mayor quietly offers him "an insurmountable mountain of treasure" in return for getting rid of the rats.

    Music is used effectively in page 3 of the story as Hobo Lobo guides the rats off of a cliff. The music increases in volume as the reader navigates toward the conclusion of the page and as the rats navigate toward the cliff. The conclusion of page 3 is slightly confusing... There is a bright pink screen with images of food and clothing items, a kitchen sink, and a leather chair.

    The story drops the music and regains the words on page 4. The mayor has taken credit for Hobo Lobo's work and refuses to pay him as they had agreed. Instead, he actually sues him for blackmail. The story ends on page 7 just as the children are being led from their houses in what appears to be Hobo Lobo's revenge.

    This work is interesting to study because it is the first that I have encountered in this class that is not completed. The stats at on the work's website indicate that while the average update occurred every 23.3 days, the last update was 798.9 days ago-- July 31st, 2014.

   The author writes, "Ahem, I am probably very sorry stuff is late". Readers are directed to the author's Twitter and Tumblr accounts in order to find news about the piece and its future. I went back 6 pages on the Tumblr account and couldn't find any news, but I did find something via Facebook. The author posted on May 31, 2015: "Before the story wraps up, I really wanted to go back and polish some of the more jarring features of the first two pages".

    While I have not stumbled upon an incomplete piece in this class, this is something that I have encountered while reading fan fiction. As the reader of something being published serially, you are dependent upon  the whims of the writer. You can become invested in a story, wait patiently (or impatiently) for updates, only to later realize that the author might not ever continue writing the story. When you begin reading something that is published in an incomplete form, there is no guarantee that it will ever become complete. As a reader, you are taking a bit of a risk, and I think that this is very interesting and worth discussing further.

Hobo Lobo of Hamelin

    Hobo Lobo of Hamelin, created by Stevan Živadinović, is a digital pop-up book of sorts. It combines sound, animation and illustrations that give the illusion of something 3D. According to the editorial statement on the Electronic Literature Collection site, the piece is an adaption of the Pied Piper--  a modern "mixture of European folktale, political satire, and internet snark".

    The work is visually compelling. The images are a combination of what look like pencil drawings in muted, black and white color schemes, and bursts of darkened vibrant colors. Some of the images "pop up" at the reader, while others are animated such as the psychic's crystal ball.

    In order the navigate the work, the reader clicks on "pages" and numbers at the top of the screen. The piece is not broken up into traditional pages; instead, as the reader clicks through, the story glides seamlessly forward. The plot of the story involves a mayor who's town has a "rat problem". These modern rats are drugged up criminals. After the mayor visits a psychic who has told him that he must hire a professional to solve the problem, Hobo Lobo comes to town offering "professional services". The mayor quietly offers him "an insurmountable mountain of treasure" in return for getting rid of the rats.

    Music is used effectively in page 3 of the story as Hobo Lobo guides the rats off of a cliff. The music increases in volume as the reader navigates toward the conclusion of the page and as the rats navigate toward the cliff. The conclusion of page 3 is slightly confusing... There is a bright pink screen with images of food and clothing items, a kitchen sink, and a leather chair.

    The story drops the music and regains the words on page 4. The mayor has taken credit for Hobo Lobo's work and refuses to pay him as they had agreed. Instead, he actually sues him for blackmail. The story ends on page 7 just as the children are being led from their houses in what appears to be Hobo Lobo's revenge.

    This work is interesting to study because it is the first that I have encountered in this class that is not completed. The stats at on the work's website indicate that while the average update occurred every 23.3 days, the last update was 798.9 days ago-- July 31st, 2014.

   The author writes, "Ahem, I am probably very sorry stuff is late". Readers are directed to the author's Twitter and Tumblr accounts in order to find news about the piece and its future. I went back 6 pages on the Tumblr account and couldn't find any news, but I did find something via Facebook. The author posted on May 31, 2015: "Before the story wraps up, I really wanted to go back and polish some of the more jarring features of the first two pages".

    While I have not stumbled upon an incomplete piece in this class, this is something that I have encountered while reading fan fiction. As the reader of something being published serially, you are dependent upon  the whims of the writer. You can become invested in a story, wait patiently (or impatiently) for updates, only to later realize that the author might not ever continue writing the story. When you begin reading something that is published in an incomplete form, there is no guarantee that it will ever become complete. As a reader, you are taking a bit of a risk, and I think that this is very interesting and worth discussing further.

The First Draft of the Revolution: Emily Short and Liza Daly

According to the author's statement on the Electronic Literature Collection site, this work is an "interactive epistolary novel set in an alternative version of the French Revolution". In this alternate universe, the war is over those high class members of society who process magic and have married within their class in order to keep the magic for themselves, and those lower class citizens who think that magic should be for everyone.

The two main correspondents are Juliette, who has been banished to the country for the summer, and her husband Henri, who has banished his wife because of pressure from his family. In the beginning of the story, it is revealed that both Henri and his wife are using magic paper to deliver instant correspondence to one  another. The plot of the story is unveiled through their letters to one another, and to minor characters as well.

In addition to Henri and Juliette, the story includes or mentions the following characters: Henri's illegitimate son; The Friar; Henri's sister, Alise; Bernadette, the boy's mother; Mother Catherine- Agnes; and Henri's aunt.

The reader interacts with the text by clicking on parts of the text and following along with the provided edit, and also making choices about which edits to allow. By doing so, I began to think a lot about revision.

There seemed to be a few types of revision being made in this text. First, there were practical edits: revision for the purpose of clarifying something or erasing extraneous detail. There were also manipulative edits made in order to coerce, to gain information, or to hide information. Finally, there were manipulative edits. This occurred when revision was needed because the writer wanted to regain control of themselves, or to clam themselves.

In addition to being a compelling read, and a historical fiction (which I love!), I like that this piece made me think about the writing process and about how revision is possible because of the written letters and because these characters were not having a face-to-face conversation. Revision is unique to writing.

The First Draft of the Revolution: Emily Short and Liza Daly

According to the author's statement on the Electronic Literature Collection site, this work is an "interactive epistolary novel set in an alternative version of the French Revolution". In this alternate universe, the war is over those high class members of society who process magic and have married within their class in order to keep the magic for themselves, and those lower class citizens who think that magic should be for everyone.

The two main correspondents are Juliette, who has been banished to the country for the summer, and her husband Henri, who has banished his wife because of pressure from his family. In the beginning of the story, it is revealed that both Henri and his wife are using magic paper to deliver instant correspondence to one  another. The plot of the story is unveiled through their letters to one another, and to minor characters as well.

In addition to Henri and Juliette, the story includes or mentions the following characters: Henri's illegitimate son; The Friar; Henri's sister, Alise; Bernadette, the boy's mother; Mother Catherine- Agnes; and Henri's aunt.

The reader interacts with the text by clicking on parts of the text and following along with the provided edit, and also making choices about which edits to allow. By doing so, I began to think a lot about revision.

There seemed to be a few types of revision being made in this text. First, there were practical edits: revision for the purpose of clarifying something or erasing extraneous detail. There were also manipulative edits made in order to coerce, to gain information, or to hide information. Finally, there were manipulative edits. This occurred when revision was needed because the writer wanted to regain control of themselves, or to clam themselves.

In addition to being a compelling read, and a historical fiction (which I love!), I like that this piece made me think about the writing process and about how revision is possible because of the written letters and because these characters were not having a face-to-face conversation. Revision is unique to writing.

Thermophiles in Love

    
Thermophiles in Love


     When I learned that we were participating in the #NetProv Thermophiles in Love as part of our Elit group project, I was initially drawn to the idea and excited to participate. As part of a New Media Studies class, I got the chance to participate in my first #NetProv last spring. You can read my reflection on that experience here.

     The premise for Thermophiles in Love is a 5-gender thermophile dating site that utilizes matchmakers, or Mesos, to "hook up" sets of four thermophiles so that they can form a quadruple. Created by Samara Hayley Steele, Cathy Podeszwa, Rob Wittig, and Mark Marino, the game seeks to serve as a "creative exploration of contemporary gender fluidity viewed through a microscopic collaborative narrative".


https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=15&v=JzLBI7JEka8
     After reading the "How to Play" section of the site and watching the intro video, my first goal as a  participant was to get a gender assignment so that I could set up a profile. I was assigned to be a "Fac":

http://markcmarino.com/til/picker/allgenders.htmlption


     Yet, even after being assigned and reading about my gender's traits, I was still hesitant to create a profile. I felt unsure... What was going through my mind: What exactly is a thermophile?! (Now would be a good time to mention that I missed the "About" section of the website).

     I did a quick Google search and found myself on the Wikipedia page for Thermophile. Here I also read about Facultative thermophiles and discovered that they are considered "moderate" because they can survive at both high and lower temperatures.


     Leaving all of that "science-y" information behind, I moved forward in the #NetProv. In creating a profile, I tried to picture someone who would be comfortable in many different situations. Based on the suggested occupations for my gender, I  also imagined my thermophile as an adventurer.  @fac_Sulfie was born:

My Profile
     Initially, there were two ways to participate in forums: the user could chat within their own gender's forums, or the user could participate in the open "Hot Springs" forums. Throughout the week, I participated in 7 forums, including the Big Date at weeks end, and both post-experience reflections.
   
     Reflecting now on my participation with this #NetProv, I think that the subject made me feel a little distanced and reserved. I never felt truly comfortable and held back from participating in the way that I saw some other users interacting within the game. I will start by saying that I am not a science person (I know, I know... you didn't have to be a science person to play the game...). I just felt a certain level of distance from the subject matter (I am also not a dating site person) and could not immerse myself comfortably. Constantly running through my mind was the fear, "Am I doing this right? Am I thinking about this/ approaching this all wrong?" It was a road-block of sorts.

    I also felt that a user's level of interaction was sometimes limited by that of other users. For example, I was grouped with four other participants for "The Warm-Up Date" and "The Big Date", but I was the only person who posted in our forums. I could see that others were viewing the forums, but no one posted anything. No posts = no exchanges.


    Finally, I felt that the strict timeline for participation was a hindrance. This was likely a contributing factor in the lack of participation from my group. As a creative writer, I often feel that I need to write organically and not to a timeline.

    This #NetProv experience certainly made me think more deeply about the ways in which people interact in digital public spaces. There is a certain level of freedom that comes with anonymity. Some users were really able to jump into their character and let loose. I also believe that there is a different type of interaction and a different comfort level that occurs in small group interactions versus large forum participation. I think that some people may have felt more comfortable posting in the larger forums, while I felt the opposite.

   By participating in this experience, I also thought more critically about collaborative writing and  imagining. I felt unsure and a bit confused about my participation as my character. This feeling of disorientation with the subject matter made me pull back and feel hesitant.

   Finally, this adds a new level of understanding to my own research about online collaboration and participation within fan communities. I think that a certain level of comfort and understanding of the subject matter leads to more successful collective imagining. I also think that even in a anonymous setting, there needs to be a certain level of trust: you need to trust yourself and your comprehension of the experience, and you also need to trust others not to judge you and your mode of participation to harshly.

    

Thermophiles in Love

    
Thermophiles in Love


     When I learned that we were participating in the #NetProv Thermophiles in Love as part of our Elit group project, I was initially drawn to the idea and excited to participate. As part of a New Media Studies class, I got the chance to participate in my first #NetProv last spring. You can read my reflection on that experience here.

     The premise for Thermophiles in Love is a 5-gender thermophile dating site that utilizes matchmakers, or Mesos, to "hook up" sets of four thermophiles so that they can form a quadruple. Created by Samara Hayley Steele, Cathy Podeszwa, Rob Wittig, and Mark Marino, the game seeks to serve as a "creative exploration of contemporary gender fluidity viewed through a microscopic collaborative narrative".


https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=15&v=JzLBI7JEka8
     After reading the "How to Play" section of the site and watching the intro video, my first goal as a  participant was to get a gender assignment so that I could set up a profile. I was assigned to be a "Fac":

http://markcmarino.com/til/picker/allgenders.htmlption


     Yet, even after being assigned and reading about my gender's traits, I was still hesitant to create a profile. I felt unsure... What was going through my mind: What exactly is a thermophile?! (Now would be a good time to mention that I missed the "About" section of the website).

     I did a quick Google search and found myself on the Wikipedia page for Thermophile. Here I also read about Facultative thermophiles and discovered that they are considered "moderate" because they can survive at both high and lower temperatures.


     Leaving all of that "science-y" information behind, I moved forward in the #NetProv. In creating a profile, I tried to picture someone who would be comfortable in many different situations. Based on the suggested occupations for my gender, I  also imagined my thermophile as an adventurer.  @fac_Sulfie was born:

My Profile
     Initially, there were two ways to participate in forums: the user could chat within their own gender's forums, or the user could participate in the open "Hot Springs" forums. Throughout the week, I participated in 7 forums, including the Big Date at weeks end, and both post-experience reflections.
   
     Reflecting now on my participation with this #NetProv, I think that the subject made me feel a little distanced and reserved. I never felt truly comfortable and held back from participating in the way that I saw some other users interacting within the game. I will start by saying that I am not a science person (I know, I know... you didn't have to be a science person to play the game...). I just felt a certain level of distance from the subject matter (I am also not a dating site person) and could not immerse myself comfortably. Constantly running through my mind was the fear, "Am I doing this right? Am I thinking about this/ approaching this all wrong?" It was a road-block of sorts.

    I also felt that a user's level of interaction was sometimes limited by that of other users. For example, I was grouped with four other participants for "The Warm-Up Date" and "The Big Date", but I was the only person who posted in our forums. I could see that others were viewing the forums, but no one posted anything. No posts = no exchanges.


    Finally, I felt that the strict timeline for participation was a hindrance. This was likely a contributing factor in the lack of participation from my group. As a creative writer, I often feel that I need to write organically and not to a timeline.

    This #NetProv experience certainly made me think more deeply about the ways in which people interact in digital public spaces. There is a certain level of freedom that comes with anonymity. Some users were really able to jump into their character and let loose. I also believe that there is a different type of interaction and a different comfort level that occurs in small group interactions versus large forum participation. I think that some people may have felt more comfortable posting in the larger forums, while I felt the opposite.

   By participating in this experience, I also thought more critically about collaborative writing and  imagining. I felt unsure and a bit confused about my participation as my character. This feeling of disorientation with the subject matter made me pull back and feel hesitant.

   Finally, this adds a new level of understanding to my own research about online collaboration and participation within fan communities. I think that a certain level of comfort and understanding of the subject matter leads to more successful collective imagining. I also think that even in a anonymous setting, there needs to be a certain level of trust: you need to trust yourself and your comprehension of the experience, and you also need to trust others not to judge you and your mode of participation to harshly.