All posts by Stephanie Jones

Final Thoughs on E-Lit

E-Lit exceeded my expectations. It was everything I thought I was looking for in an electronic literature class and more. I learned more than I ever thought I was going to learn. Honestly, I didn't have true expectations other than I thought we would read different stories online. It didn't really dawn on me how the stories would be presented. Or that the mere fact that these works live in an online space make them electronic literature.

Growing up I was always a fan of stories where I got to choose my own adventure. All of the electronic literature pieces we read where the course of the plot relied on my decision to click a certain word were some of my favorite e-lit pieces. The last text we read Quing's Quest sticks out to me as it is the most recent but I really enjoyed the bright and vibrant colors.

Originally, when I thought of electronic literature I used to think in terms of fan fiction websites where people create their own storylines to their favorite books, tv shows and movies. I was a little disappointed that we did not discover any e-lit pieces that served as windows into this fanfic world now did we get to explore any sights already dedicated to this literary artistic art form. I have never had the chance to be a part of one those online fan fic communities, but I've always admired them and had I been a teenager when these worlds were introduced online, I would've joined them for sure.

I really enjoyed the interactivity allowed by the electronic literature pieces we explored in class. Social media has become a large part of electronic literature in a way I don't think anyone could've predicted. In spaces like Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook, we are all given an opportunity to create our own pieces of electronic literature, on a daily basis. Even if we aren't aware we're doing so. Daily postings of positive words, funny memes, quotes or GIFs are all apart of the electronic literature landscape.

My presentation was on bots and unfortunately, I couldn't do it up the way I would've liked. Technology failed us that night. But I love bots and after learning how to make one. I really like the way they add to the electronic literature landscape. Bots can take on their own life and spit out their own story in a semi-random way. Even in its unpredictableness, it makes sense and it lends itself to being able to be included in literary conversations. Especially ones that you can program to spit out parts of a literary work.

I was surprised that I didn't allow myself to get frustrated by the technology. And my inability to use some of it. I started off wanted to do something really grand with my e-lit piece. I wanted to have it be a backdrop for my main character but I didn't know how to manipulate the different sites in the way I envision. I started off using Presi then I was introduced to Thinglink and I felt that had a better flow but it still really wasn't what I had in mind. But I learned how to navigate two new sites. I am even thinking of including Presi into my presentations for work. Google slides is dull in comparison, so I'm really excited about using this in my classroom. 

The best part of this class was our discussions after a presentation. I was able to get a deeper understanding of the piece when it was presented in the class. There were some of the e-lit pieces that I just didn't connect with at home but as they were presented I got a better understanding of their meaning because each of the presentations was so thoughtful.

The most challenging part was pushing through the technology when I found it difficult. I often found myself wanting to just engage with text without the use of technology. In some instances, I didn't like to be spoon feed the narrative and I just wanted to read the stories "straight" through. When it came time to creating my own e-lit piece I was frustrating and I found it hard taking my big ideas and tailoring them down into ones I could actually do myself. I wished I had more time just to work and experiment with things on a technological. More time with the creating part could've really helped me to bridge the gap in technological capabilities. I was able to get some help from my classmates and during our work sessions in class. And I suspect if my personal life wasn't so chaotic I would've had more time in class to connect with my peers and fill in the spaces where I needed more clarity. 

In terms of a final grade, I would have to say I deserve an A-. Simply because of the days I wasn't physically present in class and because my Twitter particpation wasn't as robust as I wanted it to be. But, when I did tweet or participate in class it was meaningful and I enhanced the learning environment.

Social Justice Quest

This week we're exploring the not a game, e-lit "game" Quing's Quest VII the self-proclaimed anti-video game e-lit piece, subtitled, The Death of Video Games. The concept of this game is that it was supposed to show the way that the feminist movement is going to be the death of video games. This was shocking and interesting to me, to think that the idea of women playing video games would lead to the death of them. The idea of a woman's involvement means things being domesticated or softened up.

When you enter the game the colors are very bright and feminine. You can't get any more feminine than neon pink and green.

When you hover over the words in this section they change. 

The words start to sparkle as if they were struck with fairy dust. Now when you select the outfit choice, you're taken to another link where now you can select different outfit choices which are extremely over the top and ridiculous which aligns with the tone being set by the authors of this e-lit piece. Even though this was supposed to be satirical and highlight everything that is wrong with the new wave of video games, I enjoyed it. And I didn't mind the extra girly back almost leftist agenda that the piece seems to contain. Even with the overt connections to the female gender stereotypes, the piece did make a point to mention that the gorgeous person is of an "indistinct gender." So there was some inconsistency there. It didn't take too long for me to navigate through the entire story. I did, in fact, enjoy it. But, I never got a sense that it was connected to a video game at all. I probably wouldn't have made that connection if I hadn't read the first page.

And also, this piece was written by a Canadian and yet I felt a lot of the references were poking fun at or calling attention to a specific liberal group of Americans and their way of life especially with the flushing of the toilet that is a vaporizing, fake toilet. Or the mention of vegan food.

A Series of Unfortunate Events

I should be ashamed of myself for being a procrastinator. It is all my fault. However, if I am being totally honest, life got in my way-- seriously. It was a series of unfortunate events. I swear.

Let me start with last week's class. While sitting in class my computer decides this was the "later" time that it should update to the newest setting of whatever system my MacBook Pro is now running on. Then right when it was time to start group work, I get a text message telling that my mom was being rushed to the hospital and I had to come and get my daughters. Now, thank God my mom is okay. She couldn't move and was in an excruciating amount of pain because according to the doctor, she now has sciatica. This is in addition to all of the other back and arthritis ailments that plague her. Sorry, mom, I love you. You're the best!

Anyway, that even sent my weekend on a tailspin. I went from showing up to Thanksgiving to now, hosting. I had to make a mad dash on Wednesday to get all of the food, instead of my normal pot of collard greens. Then I cooked all Wednesday into Thursday. And well on Friday I recuperated, slowly working myself out of my Thanksgiving coma. Saturday was a day spent cleaning up from Thanksgiving and well, Sunday was cheerleading and lesson plans. I say all of that to say. I did not get a chance to sit down and work on my e-lit blog until Monday night. And when that happened I kept getting this screen below.

I tried all last night but for each piece both Uncle Roger and Separation I got that message. So by 11pm I was tired and so I decided to go to bed and try again today at work. First off, my job won't let me be great. Every moment of the day I had a student who needed my attention at the very single moment and I had to oblige them. Then, I had an author come and visit my Project Lit Bookclub students. So when I finally was able to check the two sites at work I still got the same error message. 

So I had a bright idea to wait until I get to class and finish the blog while the e-lit piece is being presented. But, since I have to meet with my daughter's teachers because the November snowstorm caused us to have to reschedule, I won't even see the pieces in class because I will be late.  So yea, I said all of that to say that I will have nothing to contribute to the two pieces discussed tonight. But, it is not from a lack of trying.

That brings me to my e-lit piece. Well, I have the Instagram page up and I'm using actual photos for the Instagram. But I think the other element will be a Prezi piece. In this Prezi application, I will figure out a way to incorporate the Instagram page and photos. I've been playing around with Prezi and I like the idea of coming in and out of the information via the moving bubbles. What I am wondering if it will allow me to hyperlink things out or how I can add songs to that part of the presentation. I've been thinking a lot about different songs that would and should go along with my novel and this e-lit piece. And not that I am really equipped to do the sound application I want to at least try. So at the very least, I can include a link out to YouTube and include different sound bites or songs.    

Cruising Toward the End

Funny thing is when I first read the title. It reminded me of the Smokey Robinson song Cruise. So when I entered the site, I wasn't surprised at the vibe once I entered the site. The car made me think about cruising in the casual driving sense.

Then when I began to explore the e-lit piece I came to this screen:

 The entire vibe of this first page made think that we were headed on a journey of sight and sound. I was captivated by this photo. It made me think about my possible e-lit project and what I'd like for it to look like. There is a possibility that I could capture a photo that represents in my piece in totality. Then I click on the launch button.

I was brought to this screen. The image of the woman intrigued me because I wondered how she fit in what seemed like a puzzle. The jazz music set the tone of the rapid movement of the images at the lower part of the screen. Everything seemed to be melodic and after watching for a while, I was set into a trance. Very much like it would happen if you were cruising in a car. I spent about ten minutes wondering where the words were. Then I hovered over the flashing words, then I saw this:

Now the images were enlarged. The music stayed at the same tempo but I noticed at first the words moved from left to write. As the jazz music blared through my speakers I tried to make sense of the images as the words flew by backwards. Then something happened. All of a sudden, the words started moving in a direction where they could be read, if you slowed down the tempo. It wasn't until I did a screenshot of this image did I notice the words matched up to what was being said. I moved the arrow over the words causing them to slow down and then speed up. I found it to be extremely relaxing. I paid more attention to the melody and sounds and the movement of the words rather than the story being told. That within itself was an experience and it told the story of the feel that cruising gives a person.

My E-Lit Piece

Mya's InstaStory. I'm going to create an E-lit piece based on my character using Instagram. So far I only have one post and one image. One of my students reminded me of my main character Mya. I saw her touting her Howard University para during the college event at my job. It hit me in an instant that she was my Mya. Luckily, Mya is a fictional student who attends the actual school where I work. So my goal is to get some shots of my student who is acting as Mya this week to add to Mya's Instagram. The first post is going to be in memory of her grandmother, Big Ma. Who dies at the start of the book. This event serves as the catalyst that gives her the gift of sight, brings her father back into her life essentially setting life on a different path-- one which, Mya never saw coming. Her Instagram will be filled with photos, quotes and other things that Mya would post. I'm also going to include hyperlinks to songs that dictate and express her mood. I think I am going to post the photos based on events that transpire in different chapters of the book.

For Those Who We Love Alive

I decided to actually read the background information before journeying into this week's e-lit piece. With Those We Love Alive by Porpentine jumped out at me so, I decided to start there. The title grabbed me right away. However, there was a warning right on the first page that stopped me in my tracks.

Content warning for violence, self-harm, and abuse. Okay, is this supposed to be ironic because this e-lit piece deals with love and love can sometimes hurt? Maybe. I guess I'll have click on in order to find out if and how the dots between love and violence connect. As I answer the questions and clicked around nothing made sense.

Then I start to read through the piece and I forgot about my original connection or prediction. I was caught up in the colorful words and different options. I noticed as I read through the piece that I kept coming back to the words, throne, balcony chambers, workshop. After each click, I tried to make sure that I took a reading by clicking on a different word. I'm not certain if I was supposed to put myself in the story or if I should've simply followed along as the reader who was waiting for someone to respond to the commands of "I am holding my breath" and "I need different breaths." When you click on "I am holding my breath" the screen goes blank for about five seconds then the previous screen reappears. With exhale in white letters.

Now I'm totally lost. What does this all mean? What does the melter, the worktable and the balcony all have to do with one another? I don't get it. I want to get it. And I feel like it is connected to something I should know or I should understand. But I don't.

I do, however, enjoy clicking through the hyperlink words looking for where it will take me next. Which is what I do first before I actually start to read the piece. I click through all of the hyperlinks to see where the loop takes me. After kept getting stuck at the palace courtyard I decided to watch the video about this e-lit piece. The video gets to the end. I never got there. And after a while, the soothing music just got on my nerves. I felt like it was torturing me.

As much as I enjoy the mystery and uniqueness of each e-lit piece, I'm feeling completely lost. I go back to the start page then click on the notes. From the notes, I was able to get a better understanding of the reading. I clicked on the word here and it took me to this page:

And I'm back to being lost and confused again. There were images on this page of people who created artwork that represents Porpentine. There were themes of suicide, bullying, gay and trans issues are all woven throughout the site and game. I totally missed all of that in my reading of he e-lit piece. 

Adventues in E-Lit 2018-10-08 22:42:00

Taroko Gorge was interesting, to say the least. Truthfully it was hard to stay focused with the poem because it moved. Then I started to pay attention to the literary devices being used and try to pick up on a pattern to keep with the flow of the poem. Which made it easier. Then I tried to figure out what the poem was about. Words like forest, stone, and crags came up in several lines in different stanzas. Other words like veins and dwell appeared often as well and yet, it was still hard for me to make sense. In order for me to try and make sense of this piece, I had to look up the word crag. Because after ten minutes of watching the poem scroll by, I still couldn't figure out the meaning. So, according to, crag means a steep rugged rock a projecting part of the rock. Okay, that makes a little more sense so this is a poem about the outdoors and nature.  I didn't get a clear sense of what the theme of the poem. Even though I didn't really connect with it I did get a sense of calming after about five minutes of reading. I went back and read through the editorial and author's statement. It was then that I was able to get a better sense of what the piece is supposed to be about. And I did get a big sense of nature and serenity but I didn't pick up on the historical context or the significance of the location until I read the statement. Then I was able to go back and look at things again. This time some of the lines and stanzas were put into perspective.

Next, I took a look at Alan Bigelow's Brain Strips. And right away I was intrigued. One reason being is that I love comic books. And I thought it was cool to have an older looking drawing for the images. It made me feel that this philosophical piece was going to have a lot of satire and humor. For the most part, it did. I didn't care too much for the sound. But I did love the questions and the comic strip style responses written to each of them, I found the Is God real especially funny with the way it ended. The colors and the effects enhanced the reading to me. It made the stories jump off of the page. It also made me think that there were more elements than the words and images on the screen telling the story. The sound effects played another part. It added to the sensational appeal of the piece.  I enjoyed this reading more than the other it felt very engaging and interactive. And the concept was much more straightforward and easier for me to grasp. If I were to do an e-lit piece I would like the navigation of the work to be similar to this. I would have the sound bites be a little less jarring though.

Let’s get Botty!

First, I'd like to say how proud of myself I am. If you would've asked me to present on bots a year ago I would've run away. But now, after two Net Narr class. I'm kind of a bot master. Not, really a master but I am no longer a novice. I'm somewhere in the middle. 

Okay, when I started down the rabbit hole learning about bots for E-Lit, I see this is slightly different than the purposes of bots for a networked narrative class. So, let's get down to the nuts and bolts of this whole bot-uation. That's my last bot pun I swear. Taken from the word robot, bots are, "computer programs designed to operate autonomously." 

In the world of e-lit it becomes a really cool, sometimes random way to generate literature. Or is it? There are debates that happen that online bots are nonsense and it doesn't amount to anything sensical let alone literature. Bots like Tiny Crossword don't seem to serve a purpose. But if you follow through the feed it begins to make its own form of poetic rhythm. 

One could argue that the person who programs the bot intended for it to appear that it doesn't make any sense and therein lies the beauty of it. So how do we detect a bot from an actual writer? Well, there's a game you can play to see if you can pick out true literature.

The best part about bots is making your own. It is cool to play around with already created bots. Creating your own allows you to play the author and create your own character. However, even though you are writing a script perse you still don't get to control the outcome much like other e-literature.

Here's a bot I created.

Professor Alan Levine explored the world of bots with us in my Networked Narrative class. The best part about bots is getting the chance to play around with them. Here's a link to some really cool bot stuff Alan shared with us last year. 

Entering The World of E-Lit

If you're like me, then after the first class you thought the following about e-lit: 

 via GIPHY

If you didn't leave class feeling like that, then you probably felt like this: 


Point is, I'm sure you left the class feeling some kind of way. No matter how you felt after the initial breakdown of electronic literature hopefully this week's readings pulled everything together to make things make more sense. This week we had to read Navigating Electronic Literature by Jessica Pressman and Twelve Blue by Michael Joyce. 

In the Pressman piece, she talks about how e-lit is used. Something that stood out to me was when Pressman said, 

"...electronic literature does not consist of stable, inscribed marks on a print page; rather, it emerges as a processural performance across codes and circuitry within the computer and in response to interactions from the reader." The idea that the reading emerges from the computer screens into a new experience every time the reader interacts with it, takes reading literature to a whole new level. It is possible for you to have a deeper appreciation or a deeper understanding of a literary piece the more you read it. However, when you read a traditional text the experience never changes. How you engage with the text may reveal another meaning or make the purpose clearer but your experience with the text doesn't change. 

Another part of the reading that made me pause and reflect was when I came across David Bolter saying, "We could say that there is no story at all; there are only readings.” It made me wonder what the difference is between a story and reading. I think it could still be a story because the author put those words and scenarios there for the reader to discover. I believe that it's definitely a story because all of the different rabbit holes were created for a reader to experience. 

So I wanted to experience it myself so I clicked on the Michael Joyce piece to engage in the hypertext for myself. 

It is very obvious that this is not an e-lit piece created in the last decade. Nevertheless, I engaged in the text. I clicked on number 6 to start my story. And I was taken into a scenario where I met the viralologist, Javier and I was transported back to a time when folks wore beepers. But the main thing I noticed was that there was no hypertext for me to click. I was a little disappointed that my story was at its end. The colorful squiggly lines that are in the photo above were now placed in the margins to the left. I clicked on one of the lines and then I was taken to more text. And this part of the text included a hyperlink that took me to another part of the text that didn't include a hyperlink. 

Every time I came to a page without a hyperlink I was saddened that my story ended and it didn't take me anywhere else. I also, expected to see photos that could've been hyperlinked as well. I have to admit that the plain text and the blue background did make it hard for me the stay engaged in the story. Even though I thought it was interesting. I wonder if my low attention span had anything to do with the fact that technology in which created this e-lit piece is a bit dated. And if it were to be republished using some of the software we have available now, if I would feel differently. For the most part, I was engaged and excited to see where I would go next. But I think when I didn't actually go anywhere different or surprising the clicking of the hyperlinks started to bore me and I just wanted to a read a story straight through.