Thermophiles in Love

thermophile-cover-photoMake me a match, find me a find, catch me a catch!

I absolutely loved participating in this Netprov project! I was excite from the minute I created my username and my character’s profile. For the duration of the project, my character was obli_wankenobi.

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In the beginning, the environment of Thermophiles in Love wad fast paced and intriguing. I knew that I didn’t have to know everything about the bacteria to participate, but I felt like I did for some reason. I took notice of how every other student was entering into the project with vastly different perspectives and I didn’t want to seem “behind”. I actually found it interesting that I felt that way, and thought I needed to keep myself in check in terms of what I said. I thought having the anonymity behind my character would make me want to open up a bit more, but in the beginning I was still very shy as if I were meeting everyone in person. I definitely retreated back to the rules a lot and I would check the characteristics of my character to make sure I was getting things right. I went to bed the first night convincing myself I had to loosen up a bit more.

By the second day, I felt more comfortable in the environment. Conversations were taking off and topics held more weight than on the first day. I began to see disagreements about made up preconceived notions about the community that we were all building and I felt compelled more to add in my two cents in whatever imagined way I could drum up in my head. I feel like the obli gender is closer than any other to my true self, so it wasn’t hard to be me, but I still tried to venture out and do/say a few things that I wouldn’t necessary do or say. I know nothing about replicating and plasmids but my character sure did!

I absolutely loved how everyone carried on however they felt and represented themselves in whatever way they chose (e.g. Jason) from arrogant and bold to straight up chill and hippie-like! This project not only taught me more about myself, but allowed me to make new discoveries about communication in obscure and abstract situations. I think something is to be said about the way in which there were cliques and groups forming naturally by the third and second day that I joined. I feel like humans have this natural disposition to react and respond in similar ways that they would in real life sometimes without knowing it. I liked the fact that you never knew when someone was pulling from something real within themselves to give life and a sort of dimension to their character or when it was just something literally made up on the spot, but I loved even more how you could be as silly as you wanted like having a movie mesflix and chill night to watch Meso_Streep and Meso_nardoDiCaprio movies with some meso and obli buddies!

I think this project is innovative and serves its purpose well bringing up the importance of community, communication, interacting in an online forum, and even discussion of the ways the gender are looked at and can be socially constructed (since the entire idea was based off of five different types of thermophile genders). I have learned so much and kind of wish that it wasn’t over! I will place some screenshots below of some of my comments and interactions!

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Thermophiles in Love Reflection



There were a number of issues that arose during my period of participation in the “Thermophiles in Love” (TiL) improvised network narrative (netprov).  Firstly, because the characters were fictional bacteria with a unique sense of gender, I had to decide on the way I wanted to use gender neutral pronouns.  I decided on Rickter’s “xe” pronouns because they sounded the most otherworldly to me, and thus best suited to the science fiction/slipstream genre of the netprov.  TiL also influenced the way I interacted with some of my classmates in real life.  Being careful not to reveal our online identities, we had detailed discussions about characters and events on the netprov, both in person and via text message.  We even developed some specific lexis to describe things in the real world based on features from TiL.  The most significant issue, however, was the unexpected emotional distress that arose from the incongruities between my real-life self and my character.  I do a lot of creative writing, and I have written from the points-of-view of fictional characters countless times before (I’ve even written from the point of view of a parasitic worm!), but the layered aspect of communication on the netprov made things a lot more nerve-wracking.  Because I knew I was going to be interacting with my professor, classmates, and other scholars and academics in the career field I wish to enter, I still felt pressure to present myself well.  I worried that people would confuse my words and ideas with those of my character, and it would somehow come back to bite me.  

One outstanding incident occurred when another person’s character, Acido_EColi, began to argue with my character, hype_solium.  Due to the open-ended, uncertain nature of the relationship between the netprov’s universe and real-world microbiology, our characters had conflicting ideas about the relative societal and evolutionary positions of E. coli to Thermophiles.  I had imagined E. coli as less developed bacteria that Thermophiles kept as pets, almost like dogs.  The person writing Acido_EColi had actually imagined their character as an E. coli cell.  When hype_solium talked about xyr pet E. coli cells and the way that xe treated them, Acido_EColi was incredibly offended, and xe wrote about xyr feelings as a response to hype_solium’s thread.  At that point I became very anxious because in real-life I would have apologized profusely and done everything I could to avoid a conflict with another forum user, but hype_solium would not.  In accordance with the characteristics laid out by the netprov’s creators for xyr gender, my character would not listen to Acido_EColi’s point; xe would argue back.  So I argued back, risking appearing ignorant and confrontational to my professor, classmates, and contemporaries if they happened to figure out my online identity.  The anxiety it evoked was so distracting that I almost forgot to lock the door on the way out of the Writing Center, where I work as a tutor, that evening.  I also thought about the fictional argument for the duration of my commute, worrying obsessively about how Acido_EColi would take my character’s response, and planning possible comebacks in xyr voice.    

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

This unprecedented gathering of “thermophiles in love” an entertaining, although at times frustrating, adventure into role-playing and online “dating”. I would even go so far as to call it e-literature, due to the fact that the world was almost entirely built on the contributed writings of its participants. I took the name@acido_melioristicus.

As an acido, I tried to channel the alpha male “personality” attributed to my species. Upon reading other blogs and discussion threads by other acidos, the A-type personality often took the form of boasting and pumping up of their own attributes. I am guessing that was partly because this was the premise upon which we were asked to rest our character (magnetic, attractive, over-the-top).  Before jumping in, I checked out the “For Acidos Only” blog to see how other players approached it. What I found was that a lot of “acidos” opted for a more scientific edge, mining the language for terms that would fit their new chemical/bacterial forms. In addition, you had a bunch of people approaching it like a dating sight and “looking for love”, and also plenty of people promoting their acido-ship, even to the point of discriminating other forms of therms.

For example:

Acidooooooooooooos! Therms up to my homies. Who’s down for a party tonight? We got the vents going up on a Tuesday. Role through and DONT BRING ANY OBLIs
The last time I went volcano hunting, I ran into a hot ball of lava named Obli_5000. 5000 couldn’t keep the heat going. So. I took the molten rock, and threw it at his face.

To wade into the mix, I posted a message on discussion boards both for fellow acidos and on the general discussion board titled “Hot Springs”.  On the acido board, I tried an approach that I thought might have worked in a face-to-face social situation… seeking advice for lasting partnerships.

thermophileclip1

The result was less than spectacular. I got only the one message and less than a dozen views. In fact, the entire acido-only page only had three threads.  I thought there would be more. Looking at the other “only” blogs, it seems like in each case, one of the threads got all the views and comments (in one case over 100), while the others barely got looked at. My second attempt worked better – again, as I tried to draw out others’ creativity by asking them what they were “most likely” to be. I’m not even sure, looking back, what I meant by that, but the responses seemed to reflect the way others’ saw themselves in contrast to the other thermophiles, thereby helping define themselves.

thermo2

 

 

There was an interesting back and forth in preparing for the date and I was surprised that the Meso that set up my date actually defied the rules and put three “acidos” and one “fac” in the group – a direct violation of the “rules” of the game, which state that you should have one of each thermophile gender.  How did it go? Probably the same way you would expect a real date to go if you included multiple people with the same personality type. Sometimes we complimented each other and sometimes we clashed, although with somewhat comical results. We all worked to attribute activities and, in some cases, personalities to each other – particularly the “fac” which seemed to be thematically sidelined.  I thought it fascinating how we chose to role play. The first message from @acido_reflux showed the kind of reaction you might expect someone who is dealing with a social situation in which the rules are violated – some anger and frustration, both at the Meso in charge and at the other acidos. I did the same, targeting one of the acidos as a therm that would try to “one-up” his fellows (consistent with an A-type personality), but @acido_quiloniusA didn’t do that at all. Instead, he/she took a different direction, celebrating the combination of acidos, even arguing that @fac_krispyking was the best of the group – something I would not have expected. Looking back, I wish I had gone more in the inclusive direction, but I got caught up in trying to role play the hyper-self-possessed and obsessed thermophile, instead of exploring a different way to relate. In fact, when @fac_krispyking  blogged about the experience, and mentioned what seemed like a put-down from me, I actually felt disappointed, like I should have made more of a rhetorical effort to reach out to them. You can see the messages below.

thermo3

So…. once we got to the actual date, it was amazing to see that my fellow thermophiles appeared to also taken the lesson to heart and made attempts to be more inclusive. You can see that we each made efforts to celebrate our similarities and our common characteristics rather than emphasizing our differences. There seemed to be quite a lot of soul-searching in these blogs, reconsidering our earlier brash and aggressive behavior and searching for common ground. All the pretense of using scientific terminology and language seems to have gone out the window at this point, and everyone is actually trying to relate to one another, hold each other up and end the experience on a good note. Although there were only a handful of blogs exchanged, it felt as though my fellow thermophiles were trying to reach out to me, and I actually got a bit of a smile when I saw them mention “me” in a positive light. What an odd reaction when it comes to people I don’t know and a character I invented (and by that I mean picked a name and a bit of a back story) less than a week ago!!

thermo4

I began this NetProv with high expectations and at first, I was actually a little let down. I didn’t feel that there was a lot of participation, and I got a lot less feedback to my posts than I thought I would get. The “game” itself rests almost entirely on participation and it just didn’t seem that interesting. But as I wrote, I realized that by digging deeper, particularly into the writings and nuances of the blogs, I was able to see how our approach to our “date” and to each other changed even from blog to blog. We started to take responsibility for each other’s happiness, going out of our way to express positive feelings (even though it was difficult for any of us to completely shed the alpha personality we had been assigned at the outset). I felt that the game itself was stripped down in a way that allowed our characters to be developed entirely based on our interpretation of a tiny pre-prepared bio and our imagination. In addition, I was surprised at how one piece of writing in a digital space seemed to directly impact what followed, and not just as a direct response. The tone and approach seemed to be adjusted as we went along; when one seemed particularly harsh or aggressive, the next blog usually did some form of damage control, or dialing the overall tone back. Looking at other date groups, I seem to be one of the few that had a real interactive experience. Only six out of a few dozen discussion groups had more than one response, so it’s hard to judge whether others had the same experience I did. I saw that in the final assessment, much of the disappointment stemmed from people who simply didn’t play or respond. I don’t know that I developed any new digital literacies here, but I feel like I honed my abilities somewhat, seeing a more obvious interplay between the narratives perpetuated by the players (and that the tone and edge of a message impacted the way the response was written). As a digital experience, I think more involvement by other players would have made it more interesting, but I believe that I had the good fortune to experience a group that actually had something to say.

captureAcidos forever!!


Blog #6- This Is How You Will Die

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http://www.secrettechnology.com/artgames.html

Unfortunately, I could not access Jason Nelson’s This Is How You Will Die so the first time I really was able to see it was in class during the walkthrough. I found this piece of Elit to be entertaining as well as spooky and life reflecting. What really caught my attention was the slot machine that we had to spin in order to make our way closer and closer to our death. The way I believe the slot machine relates to the darkness of death is because of Las Vegas. When thinking of Vegas I think of “sin city” and just a place where lost souls go or end up. We discussed dry humor in the piece and some people said they believed it was funny while others were completely freaked out by it.

I once had a near death experience in which I truly thought I was going to die so this brought up those bad memories, but at the same time I am able to appreciate life more and find myself always wanting to laugh and smile. I was able to laugh at the craziness of this piece and its specifics on how each person will die. We did not have enough time to find out what our ending result of death would be, but I got the whole point of Nelson’s piece. I am kind of relieved because I believe somehow going through with it would make me paranoid in one way or another.

The scary music had a real effect on the piece in that it made you more nervous than anything else and the overall darkness of the piece itself with its images and sounds coming from people who sounded a little mentally unstable made it that much more spooky. Overall I did enjoy the piece, but I believed it was a little overwhelming both physically and mentally. There was a lot going on with each spin and also sitting there thinking of what could happen in life and that anytime we could die, it’s a scary thought just like this was a scary elit piece!


Ally’s Elit World 2016-11-01 20:32:00

Again I have found a piece that helps me realize how important sound is within a piece of Elit. "This is how you die" is a game online in form of a slot machine one could find in a casino. Except this game won't bring you a dollar and some change if you're lucky. This game is actually frightening and it's main focus is death and how the player will get there. I took a couple ideas as inspiration from this piece. For example the voices of the man and woman, I enjoyed that. The eerie music was also a great addition to the whole piece. This definitely wasn't one of my favorites but for sure one of the oddest pieces. I found myself not being able to listen to it by myself in my room because it made me that uncomfortable. It wasn't as interactive as other pieces but I did enjoy the fact that I was playing a slot machine and had credits. That made the game realistic in a way even though this is a literature piece. I am interested to see what Kelly has to say about this piece because out of all of them, this is the one I find myself having the least amount of words to explain how I feel about it. I will definitely say I enjoyed the sounds and imagery.

Blog Post #6: Review of “This is how you will Die!”

Image result for this is how you will die“This is how you will die” By: Jason Nelson is a piece made up of as described as dry humor. This piece uses a slot machine interface to randomly generate a story board of the readers’ demise, allowing the reader to continue spinning the slot machine, as long as she has credits remaining. With that aspect, it reminded me of being in Vegas and playing at your own will. Knowing you have high stakes and high chances of loosing money, You still play to try your luck. What I didn’t like about this piece was the was it spun and how certain hypertext would try to make you click otherwise. What was disturbing to me was how when opening the tab the tab says, “slotdeath”. This actually made me think something was going to pop up on my screen. Playing a slot game to determine my death and let me know how it happened isn’t something I would want to play in real life. The circumstances as well as the causes of deaths, including what happens to your body and after are all absurd and pretty disturbing. The only thing that might have felt like it belonged  the music, the short animated pieces and the “explain death” poem. In this, as in other works of e-poetry by Jason Nelson, playful interfaces and darkly humorous tone serve as cover for serious themes and personal exploration. By the end of this piece, I was not really a fan. I would look at the prompt that stated congratulations you have won more spins, when in all actuality, I did not want to continue playing. I actually wanted to stop playing after reading the first spin. I did not enjoy this piece and I would not had continued to read it if it were not for this class. I usually tend to look at the bright side of pieces of elit that are written in gruesome and gory ways.


This is How You Will Die.

in-loving-memory

Jason Nelson’s piece “This Is How You Will Die” is interestingly unique. At first, I didn’t know how to internalize the concept of the piece; the piece isn’t the most interactive as there is only one button to roll over (which reveals a poem), the box to view how many credits are available to spin, and the death spin button that activates the slot machine to then generate a random scenario for the reader’s death. Throughout the entire piece, spine-chilling music plays and there are door icons with numbers that loop audio clips of random topics on death. Some of the audio clips are of just a woman talking or just a man. Other times there is a man and a woman having a conversation about death. Unfortunately, the text on the pictures for the audio clips switches too fast and I couldn’t get a good sense of what each of them were saying. The piece definitely brings forth a air of fortune or chance with the different ways that people can die, and the function of a slot machine does make the piece seem more game-like or like death is just game or something.

The voices in this work are very haunting. What adds to this is the fact that the audio clips don’t just play once and then stop, but in fact stay on a loop until something else is clicked on. I am almost at a loss for words with this piece. I am not sure what else I could say other than the fact that it was haunting and it was displayed in a very lighthearted way. I am not sure that I actually enjoyed it as some might have. I am not sure if I understand the point of the piece. I am definitely interested in Kelli’s interpretation and presentation of this piece and I can’t wait to engage in discussion about this to hear other perspectives.

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