Pentametron – A clever little bugger :)

We all have those quirks that makes us care seemingly a little too much about small details that ruins your whole experience, but no one else cares about. I, for instance, ABSOLUTELY !!HATE!! when developers of software choose to save money when developing the UI (user interface), it takes me as close to killing someone as I ever will come, but very few people share my view on this, at least not consciously. In Elit, this feeling also surfaces a little at times, especially in the generative genre, because to me it doesn’t hold up just putting in words and creating an algorithm  that regurgitate out bullish*t and then call it art! Not even if you afterward come up with some far-fetched “meaning” behind it that the artist force down your throat, and you should just accept it. And no, it’s NOT art just because it  provokes the viewer who gets mad because someone takes a stick and tie a rope to it and saying “This is a sarcasting comment to the society wanting to get as much as possible with as little effort as possible”… Sorry for the long rambling, but this shit really annoys me in the world of creativity. Hey, I’m not saying people can’t do what they want, make whatever they want, but then I also get to mean what I want about it ;P HOWEVER, Pentametron is NOT one of these “Let’s make it say random, weird stuff, it’ll be fun haha “, although it DOES say random and weird stu, and it IS funny. But the reason, at least in my opinion, that the random  and weird stuff this bot tweets is because of a few small features in it’s algorithm, it has a kind of consistency in it’s content, it rhymes, and the sentences always has the same rythm, which are basic trades for classic poetry. Even though you know it’s a bot, it sort of still make sense… …in a way… …even though it doesn’t… You know what I mean ;P But no matter what you might think of the tweets in themselves, or if you find some kind of meaning in them, to me the true artistic work lies in the performance, namely how and, well how… With the first “how” I mean the algorithm/code that’s in the back-end. I have enough knowledge to know that seemingly the simplest task demands an enormous load of coding and thought. With the second “how” I mean how the artist chose to restrain the bot’s tweets to make them follow the the simple rules that it does, and giving the reader the feeling of this making some kind of sense 🙂 We can debate content and meaning forever until the end of the universe, but I mean that the main difference in where we should put value when it comes to human-generated content and computer-generated content is that we know that a computer will always do what it’s told and never anything else, and we will never get any TRUE emotion from it, so the value lies in the creation of the AI (artificial intelligence) and wether, or not it is done in such a way that you for a second actually can let yourself be persuaeded to think there is something more than just 1’s and O0’s there. And I think Pentametron did a good job on this 🙂

So until next time, Dannyboy out


Night / plebiscite (or on “Pentametron”)

Screen Shot 2017-09-24 at 11.38.13 PM
from “Pentametron”

Though I’ve enjoyed reading numerous e-lit pieces so far this semester, “Pentametron” was the first piece to really spur some excitement. It makes me giddy.

One thing that I’ve thought about a lot in regard to electronic literature is why exactly the electronic piece of it is so important. Although they’re formatted for the web, some of the stories feel as though they would read just fine in a more traditional format. One thing, however, that I’ve found truly special about electronic literature is that a piece can be ever-evolving. Yes, an author can add a forward to their book when they release a new edition and JK Rowling can publish a piece on what Harry Potter is up to long after the release of her original series, but these pieces still exist in their original form on someone’s bookshelf. An author has to call the creative process quits and publish something eventually, and though they can always write another book or publish a New Yorker short story the thing that they originally published forever exists just as it did it was sent to print. Two years ago, the music world went wild when Kanye West began the long release process of his “The Life of Pablo” record. This hype was untraditional in the sense that the public wasn’t waiting for a set release date. They had many release dates, and they were waiting for the official one. Apparently Kanye couldn’t get it perfect, because he kept releasing the record and then deciding to change things — sometimes in the middle of a live performance. The record that was put out on listening platforms wasn’t the “official” record, and quite frankly I wouldn’t be surprised if he wasn’t still working on it. While this connects strongly to class discussion involving the “Hobo Lobo of Hamelin” and if we’ll ever see an update, another part of the Kanye record release situation really fits with “Pentametron.” Part of the reason “TLOP” was so successful, I believe, were that people were excited to see the process; they waited to see what might come next. Pentametron is updated almost daily, so the fun never has to end. As times change new topics come up in the retweeted tweets, so the poem is always fresh — there’s no “sell by” date because it’s always evolving.

Part of the fun of pentametron is that it takes something traditional like iambic pentameter and juxtaposes it with tweets about . Shakespeare’s sonnets are a little outdated today, but as long as the bot is running Pentametron will never be.


#3 A Children’s Story?

This week’s blog post is about Inanimate Alice Vol. 1The story is supposed to be for children, but when I first read I did not see how it was suited for a young audience.

First of all the main character’s dad is missing, and her and her mom are driving out in the dark looking for him. Meanwhile both the visuals and sounds are sort of disturbed. The white text on the black screen flickers like a broken VHS-tape, which as a 90’s kid does not bring any happy memories. The soundsscape reminds me of a cellphone corresponding with a speaker (yes that is also a bit back in the days), also a sound that is not bringing any good memories back, I even think there was a rumour in my school that if it happened, your phone might explode. All of this together gave me a very unpleasant base for my reading experience.

After reading through the entire piece I got an idea of why this piece is meant for children. The composition of the story is classic with an

  • Introduction to a conflict: Alice’s dad is missing and Alice and her mom don’t know what to do about it. Both of them are afraid, which causes tension.
  • Point of no return: They drive out to find him.
  • Conflict escalation: Mom tells Alice she can’t use her ba-xi, which makes Alice feel more scared and lonely than before.
  • Climax: Alice hears a voice in her head telling them to turn, and they find Dad.
  • Resolution: They decide they might go to a restaurant.

I think the build up of the story is one of the things that makes it less uncanny. Seeing the familiar structure of the story gives knowledge that everything is going to be fine in the end, because that is how it always is.

The story is also quite easy to navigate. You have to click the same symbol to move forward in the story, so there is no hidden paths or anything like that (no one that I found anyway). This again goes with the easy-to-understand composition of the story.

I get a sort of Sci-Fi-vibe from the story, as we only see Alice’s writing whether it’s the white on black writing or her writing lists on a screen on the screen. It makes it seem a bit like Alice is a computer-intelligence. This also correspondents well with the name of the piece “Inanimate Alice”, she is not a real person. I don’t know what to read into this except that it brings me back to feeling there is something very strange and uncanny to this piece.

All together I, with a closer look, get why this is meant for children. The story is quite basic (not that it’s bad), the main character is a young girl, which makes her relatable for a younger audience and the visuals are fun to look at and easy to navigate. I think grown-ups tend to over think every little detail and worrying about everything instead of seeing the things right in front of them and following their guts.


Pentametron

My first reaction to pentametron was: is this E-litt and how does it work.

After looking upp and down on the twitter page I still didnt know if this was e-litt. I understand thats Pentametron is a bot that collect worda and then use algoritmer to make small poem like tweets, and tjats cool but where is the soul in the work. In other e-lit work like Hobbo lobo and Redriding hood there are alot if work and tought put in  to make it a toughtfull experience for the reader, but here its only random text.

After a while i found “I got a alligator for a pet!”
A novel by @pentametron. After i read the book it did make more sence sinze know I got to read something the bot did produce. Still the text inn the boon felt random, it was better structured and felt like real poems and not just gibberish. I will not compare it to poems master like Shakespeare but I can actuall see some likeness inn how the poems are lined upp. Like here

Why isn’t Tori Kelly famous YET?
Man Vs. Food in half an hour WOO
We’ll wright a letter to the ALPHABET
Allergic to retarded questions TOO

this is a classiv way to set up poems on there the last word rimes.

I dident see this connection inn the twitter feed, but inn the book it was clear as day. I dont know why but I did like the poems better in book form than on twitter. Funny right

To anwer the first question I asked. Is this e-lit and the answer is yes, because this is a bot that collect words and make poems out of them. Its simple and fun but still e-lit. Just to think that this bot has made enough poems to make a book is incredible.

I also mention that the twitter feed of the bot lacked soul and that I stand with, but the book have alot of soul and work but inn it. Eventough it is the same content the book (for me atleast) are more apealing and are funny to read and not just some random text on twitter

See you next week

 

 

 


#3 A different kind of poetry

I always loved poetry (that was maybe the only reason why I chose German as one of my main subjects during school) – so when one of my classmates decided that she would talk about Pentametron and poem.exe, I was excited. I did not know such as thing as a poem-generating-twitterbot even existed, so I was curious so explore what all of this was about.

Pentametron was the first Twitter account I checked out. „With algorithms and discrete / I seek iambic writing to retweet“ the biography of the account declares – and that is everything the reader has to know. Pentametron basically retweets other twitter users and at the same time looks for matching (in the sense of the rhyme scheme) tweets to create original poems.  Example:

Example: Pentametron
source: twitter.com/pentametron 

Even though the poems do not always really make sense, the reader can see the vision behind the bot. But to actually ‚read‘ the poetry Pentametron creates I would suggest to simply look at the account on twitter and not following it. Why? Because the account does not post retweets in a consecutive way – sometimes it can take days until a new tweet is retweeted and a new poem is created. Still, up to this day, the account has almost 24,000 followers – and just follows two accounts itself. One is Sonnets, the other one is a William Shakespeare account. So… wanna have a guess on what or who inspired Pentametron? Even though it is questionable whether or not Pentametron is as poetic as Shakespeare’s sonnets, I really like the idea of this bot and what it is trying to create.

But is this really poetry? Real art? Let’s first have a look at the other bot we discussed in class.

poem.exe is different than Pentametron because its algorithm does not „simply retweet“ other twitter users. Instead:

„poem.exe is a micropoetry bot, assembling haiku-like poems throughout the day and publishing them on Twitter and Tumblr. It uses an Oulipo technique based on Raymond Queneau’s A Hundred Thousand Billion Poems. Verses are selected at random from a collection of a few hundred, and a single line is taken from each one to produce a new poem. After assembling a poem in this way, the program looks for seasonal references and uses these to decide whether to publish or reject the poem.“

(source: https://elmcip.net/creative-work/poemexe)

Example: poem.exe
source: twitter.com/poem_exe

So while Pentametron tweets one line for a verse, poem.exe is tweeting the whole haiku in one tweet. This makes it easier for the reader to just follow the account on twitter than following Pentametron.
In my opinion, the haiku’s of poem.exe can also be seen as more ‚poetic‘ than the Pentametron-poems, and I think one can notice that the program of poem.exe is looking for references in its created works to see if they make sense or not. In class we compared the created haiku’s with others and we could not really make out a huge difference between the pieces (besides that maybe sometimes the computer-created haiku made a little less sense than the ‚other‘).

But now on to the million-dollar-question: is this art?

Well, we talked about this briefly in class and I still think it is hard to answer. To me, art has always something to do with the emotion of the person or the people who created the poem/the novel/the painting etc. And in the case of the two bots we can say that they do not have feelings they can put into their works. But art is also about the way it makes people feel – the emotions they go through while reading a certain piece or listening to a specific song. And just because I cannot make any sense of some of the tweets/poems Pentametron and poem.exe create – does that mean no one can? I think the question whether these bots can be considered art or not is a question the reader has to answer individually.

Did I like Pentametron and poem.exe? 
I definitely enjoyed exploring the world of poem-generating-twitterbots. But well, I’m still more a fan of the ‚classical poems‘ – but I also started following poem.exe on Twitter – so we’ll see how this story ends.

 

 

 


poem.exe and pentametron

My third choice of e-literature to explore is pentametron and poem.exe, two twitter bots. They were previously presented in class by one of my fellow students, and we discussed a number of things in relation to these two pieces. While I am therefore somewhat familiar with these works, the presentation and following discussions really got me thinking about bots and how they fit in within the worlds of e-literature, which is what I will go into here.

According to Liam Cooke, poem.exe is “a bot which generates haiku-like poems and publishes them to social media.”. The bot essentially picks three-to-four lines from different verses of a poem, may substitute some words for another, then decides whether or not to publish it based on some built-in parameters relating to the seasonal references found in the lines. Altogether it produces poems that are indeed very close to actual haikus in structure, though usually with more or less vowels or even two or four lines, rather than the intended three. It is on the one hand impressive to think that a bot can produce poetry at all, but at the same time it’s kind of amusing to see the results when scrolling through the twitter feed of the bot. Whatever original meaning the lines may have had, have been broken apart and then re-contextualized when put together with lines from other verses.

Skjermbilde 2017-09-24 kl. 16.34.56
Halloween season must be near.

There’s two points of interest here, one being meaning. In class we discussed whether there was any need for humans to create poetry, if a bot could simply be programmed to do it for us. My opinion there is that there is absolutely room for both to exist, in that a human poet may have an intended meaning behind their words and choice of structure, whereas a bot cannot yet intentionally and knowingly produce meaning. This is where the other point of interest comes in, namely interactivity. In class we argued that interactivity is a part of the piece, because the reader has to partake by trying to produce meaning by themselves. Of course one can interpret human poetry in many different ways, but where a human poet will have their own understanding of their work, a bot will have none. Add in that the poems themselves appear nonsensical due to being pieced together from multiple verses, and that they are close, but-not-quite fully haiku poems, and it sort of feels like you’re being tasked as a reader to find your own meaning from them, if any.

Pentametron is a twitter bot that retweets messages that happen to be iambic pentameters, but usually does so in groups of four that altogether reads as a verse with a rhyming scheme, usually in a/a/b/b form. This is a fun one because there is a sort of unintentional interactivity from the general public, in that anyone’s tweets could potentially become a part of the piece just by posting a sentence that happens to match the bots parameters. It is a bit more difficult to read however since one tweet only contains one line by itself, which does not appear particularly meaningful, but it is therefore interactive for the reader too in that you have to piece together the verse by yourself. Once you do so it is kind of fun to see how the verse reads and sounds if you read it aloud, and I think it’s pretty neat that a bot is able to pull this off. Of course, like with poem.exe it isn’t flawless and it is definitely a bit harder to read since there is no clear start or end to the poems. It is also to me less about creating meaning from a whole verse, and more about discovering the rhymes as you go.

Skjermbilde 2017-09-24 kl. 16.59.28
It sure rhymes, but who knows if it could even mean anything? Does it matter? Should it matter?

In the end they are both very interesting and fun bots to study as they produce poems that really only us as readers can give any real meaning too. They are also limited by whatever programming and parameters are involved when it comes to picking what words to use in their tweets, but that does not mean it makes for bad poetry, rather they are pieces of e-literature where you can’t really do wrong when it comes to interpreting them. I think it is okay if you can’t really find meaning in an individual poem, as everyone will view them in different ways. Sometimes a poem you don’t understand, someone else may find deep and intriguing, and vice versa.


Bots, and poetry!

I feel this will be kind of a continuation of the discussion from Dwarf fortress, where is the poetry created, can algorithms and computer code create poetry, or is it something only humans can do?

What?

Marie (don’t know the blog URL, or I would have linked it) in my elit class, presented two twitter bots, pentametron & poem.exe. The idea (as I understood it) was to look at these similar, but different twitter bots, and think about the idea of machine made poetry, algorithms writing, and who is doing the poetry bit.

What do they do?203

The bots are different in how they work, the first one, Pentametron, rhymes sentences, its excellent in doing just that. It probably uses the twitter api to get lots of tweets, then runs them tough a phonetic database, and getting witch sentence rhymes with what. This do me is cool, the idea of doing this would never occur to me. Now to read it, you should look at the account on twitter, following it is not as good, as the tweets are posted at different times, and if just one pops up in your feed, it would make no sense.203(2)

Is it cool, yes, is it poetry, yes, is it the algorithm creating poetry or is it the algorithm in itself created by a human that is the poetry, I don’t know. Now we are entering the realm of dwarf fortress, and its algorithm’s, and what is poetry/elit.

Before we go further into that, let’s look at the other bot.

@poem.exe, is a bot that takes poems from a collection, then it takes random lines from different poems, look at the poem, does it have a theme? It looks for key words, does several sentences contain the word “fall” then its themed, and it published the poem. I think this I funny, and imaginative, the poems do not always work, but when they do, at least in my opinion, they are inseparable from “real” poems. It lacks rhythm, and that is the main “flaw” of poem.exe, the poems may work in theme, but not in rhythm. Now I may be in the minority when saying that this is poetry, but for me the poetry is created when the reader feels something, and if that happens in “random” generation of poems, for me that is art.

203(3)

What is art is a huuuge discussion, and I will not go into it, for I am neither qualified, interested, or have the time, but, in my understanding, many talk about art in connection with emotion.

Ok, now where is the art, the poetry?

In the way code art, and digital art, I think the creation of these bots, and the code that creates them, is poetry, or art in some kind. Furthermore, I think the algorithms create poems, and just because the computer cannot feel, or imbue the poems with feeling, it does not mean that the reader cannot feel, something, at least be entertained by the bot.

In the same way that dwarf fortress creates complex worlds with huge amounts of characters and events, that is a work of literature. In my opinion is literature, even if a human can create a “better” more sensible world, maybe, that does not reduce the work of the bot, or algorithm. But all that is more my opinion, but I think its fair to say, that if the poetry, or story or whatever, can be mistaken for a work created by a human, is it that different? And I wish that Marie, in her presentation, switched the human poem for the bot created poem, and got us to look at them for a while, then ask if we could see the difference, then reveal that the bot created what we thought was a human work.


Is it poetry?

(Since I am going away for the weekend, my blogpost is published a few days early.)

This time I am going to write about Pentametron, which is a poetry generator. The website seems not to be in use, so here is a link to the Twitter page: https://twitter.com/pentametron

The Twitter account was created in March 2012, and has since gained over 20.000 followers.

The poems usually consist of four lines where each line is a tweet of its own. All the tweets used are retweeted from other Twitter accounts despite the fact that Pentametron is only following two users. I am not sure how the account works, but find it quite interesting.

According to “I love e-poetry” (http://iloveepoetry.com/?p=48), Pentametron is made by Ranjit Bhatnagar and sifts through 10% of all Tweets, passing them through a dictionary for pronunciation (to find out what rhymes with what, I assume). The mechanism behind Pentametron sounds rather simple, but effective. Though when I say simple, I do not mean to say I know how it is done – because I do not (I would love to learn though!), I just imagine that the process behind how Pentametron works is very simple once you know how to set it all up.

Now that we know a bit about how this Twitterbot works, let’s move on to the big billion dollar question that Pentametron and similar bots raise: Is it art? Is it poetry? We discussed this a bit in class already, so instead of trying to speak of this in an objective matter I will write down my own thoughts about this.

So – is Pentametron poetry? Is it even art?

Well, traditionally speaking art, and the traditional genres of art (music, poetry, paintings, etc) were made to express feelings. Emotions which the bots cannot understand, meaning Pentametron contains no feelings. However, that does not mean the reader cannot feel anything from reading the poems. Therefore, emotions may be involved after all. Thus making the “emotions”-argument not valid.

Pentametron rhymes. Pentametron is (at times) cryptic. Pentametron opens for interpretation, at least to some extent. Pentametron produces poetry… But back to emotions, will the reader feel anything?

In my opinion yes – sometimes. Some of the poems made me feel emotions. Others did not (but maybe they made others feel an emotion and just not me?). What wakes emotions is individual.

“So over everything and everyone,
(they alternated roles throughout the run),
When will the lonely feelings go away?,
Up doing homework got a test today.”

This poem perfectly describes the life of a teenager- they feel done with the world, and lonely – and got no time to talk to their friends because they got homework and tests to work with. I think many can relate to this – meaning it will cause people to feel something.

So, is it poetry? Yes, one could say that – but not in the traditional meaning. Many of the poems does not really make sense, no matter how much one tries.

So, do I like Pentametron? Kind of. I find the technology behind it fascinating, but I am not really a fan of the poetry it results in. Which brings us to the question if I am a fan of poetry in general (because otherwise of course one would not like Pentametron).

Yes, I do like poetry. While looking for a more classic poem speaking of loneliness, to compare with Pentametron, I remembered this:
“By a route obscure and lonely,
Haunted by ill angels only,
Where an Eidolon, named NIGHT,
On a black throne reigns upright,”
(taken from “Dreamland” (1844) by Edgar Allan Poe).

I think that Poe opens for interpretation on a completely different level than Pentametron. Though the loneliness in the two poems may not be in the same context, I still find the differences fascinating. Pentametron tells us of loneliness and being done with everyone, while saying they have to do homework, which means more isolation from friends (hence feeding the loneliness). Poe, on the other hand, does not explain as much what is going on – leaving the reader more freedom to interpret. Also I think Poe “paints” the poem better, by giving one pictures to imagine in ones head. However, Pentametron’s poems are more fun to read – and not as exhausting because one does not need to rethink and interpret every single line or even every word.

Is this a matter of taste? Quite possible. It is not fair of me to compare Pentametron to my favorite poet, because that makes the whole comparison so much more subjective. But then again, this is my blog – meaning I decide when to be subjective and when not to be.

Overall, Pentametron is fascinating – real poetry or mocketry (mock + poetry = mocketry. Yes I just made that up) does not matter as much because Pentametron is meant as a way of entertainment. However, is not all art meant as entertainment?

 

The discussion of what is art and what is not, of what can be considered poetry and what cannot, the discussion of what entertainment is or is not, the discussion of taste/subjectivity vs objectivity… They can go on forever. Therefore I am not going to expand more on them in this blogpost. Even though these subjects are fun to discuss, I believe there is no objective truth because everyone is different. We are all individuals. And there you have my final answer to whether Pentametron is art and/or poetry: it is up to each and everyone of us to decide for ourselves whether it is or is not.

Thank you for reading my blogpost. More to come!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Insights from #Elitclass (…and the UCI World bike championships #Bergen2017)


Hi #elitclass,

Another great week!  I look forward to each of our conversations in earnest, and this week you were all very thoughtful in your blogs (and in your grappling with these layered new forms of storytelling we explicated together).

Daniel Klaussen lead us out the gate on Monday morning with an insightful presentation of Hobo Lobo of Hamelin.  Thank you for selecting this whimsical and yet profound piece for us to explore and reflect upon together.

This whimsy yet onerous web pop-up comic is more than frivolous fairy-tale (an obvious remix of the Pied Piper of Hamelin.  Rather, it is a kind of dark satire into the perils of fascism (it also works as a searing critique of current politics, social issues, and mediascape).  HoboLoboIn a richly illustrated world a wolf character called “Hobo Lobo” agrees to eliminate the rat population which has served as the corrupt mayor’s political scapegoat (a useful distraction from his own will to power and greed).  Along the way the “fourth estate” is exposed as a major player in the resulting evil.  Meanwhile, the lobo who is a hobo, represents a kind of deeply flawed ethical ambivalence in the midst of a corrupt world.  We all spoke about the political dimensions of the work, and Daniel mentioned his appreciation of the art work, and the innovative technical aspect is that uses layers to produce a three dimensional parallax effect.  The close reading we pushed as a class really opened up the power of the piece.  I especially liked the way we considered the close of the piece, and it ambiguity as a special kind of effectiveness considering the political dimensions addressed in the piece.

On Wednesday Marie followed up with a really smart comparative presentation on two generative bot pieces:  @pentametron & @poem.exe.   In choosing these pieces, Marie had us collectively consider the notion of machine made poetry, algorithmic writing, and the general #elit genre of generative literature.  In looking closely at these pieces together, some basic but important questions came up, including “What acts of writing are included in this kind of literary production?” and also “What role does the reader play in this kind of literary production?”.  The tension arising from machine generated text and human cognitive guidance/interpretation is central to the body of work.  Marie mentioned important forebears including OuiLiPo, conceptual poetry, found poetry, and flarf poetry.  In these forms of poetic expression, emphasis is placed on the production process rather than the text.  In a sense, there is no need to really read the work, as much is there is a call to consider the idea of the work.  Thank you Marie for a thoughtful engagement of poetry in the digital age.

Finally, Daniel was able to address the second piece that he selected for his particular interest – Dwarf Fortress.  This game-come-elit-text is notable for its emergent game play, it’s text based graphics, and it’s essentially open-ended infinite nature (sandbox genre).  In thinking about this work, we also considered role-playing influences in storytelling, as well the idea of a cult following for a game, and the active online fan community that emerges to keep the endless possibilities of the text alive.

So…this coming week is the infamous UCI World Championship bike racing week.  The rumors have abounded regarding the number of international visitors to our lovely city of Bergen.  It will certainly effect our public transportation, so as per collegial advice, there will be no meetings next week.

On Monday 25/9/17 we will pick up where we left off with Robert’s presentation of  Inanimate Alice Vol 1 and Inanimate Alice Vol 4.  

Your #elit choices for reflection your next blog post include Inanimate Alice or @pentametron & @poem.exe.

Please post that blog by 25/9/17.  See you then!

And until then, enjoy the unusual week in our lovely Bergen!

Dr. Zamora

 

 

#2 Hobo Lobo of Hamelin

I had no idea what to expect from Hobo Lobo of Hamelin and I have to admit that I chose it because I liked the name of it. At the second glance, I realized why I thought the name sounded familiar – It reminded me of “The Pied Piper of Hamelin”, a story/tale my grandma used to tell me when I was younger. So I was curious to see if Hobo Lobo was inspired by “The Pied Piper of Hamelin” or if the only thing they had in common was the name.

First Impression

First I had some difficulties opening the website, but after switching to another browser, it worked perfectly fine. I was surprised to find a page with a hand-drawn artwork – in my opinion a nice change to the digitally created artwork we often find in other Elit pieces. I also really liked the colors and the font that was used throughout the piece.

After trying to click on around the website, I decided to go for the numbers in the left top corner to start my journey from there.

As the first two pages of the story had no music or sounds in the background that changed when I started the third page. The (at least to me) classical sound of a night out in the country with chirping crickets, frogs and owls gave a nice ring to the first few slides and matched the atmosphere that was created by the blue-colored story. The chirping was soon accompanied by the sound of a pipe but these sounds just lasted another few slides until they were replaced by a more dooming sound.

While the nature-sounds as well as the sound of the pipe fit perfectly with the blue of the first half of the slides of the third page, the dooming sound matches the red-colored background as well as the images we see in the second half of the slides – besides it foreshadows what happened to the rats that disappeared in the story.

Navigation

Navigating through Hobo Lobo was really simple – the numbers in the upper left corner made it easy to go through the whole story in one sitting without any interruption. A nice little detail that I realized was the blurring of the numbers after you moved to the next slide, so I always knew exactly how far I had explored the piece. As the different slides are not presented in a full screen mode the text (or lexia) fits perfectly beneath each slide; the texts are usually quite short so they fit on the screen – and most of them do not need any scrolling down to be fully read.

The fact that the whole piece is navigated through side scrolling as well as a lot of elements in the story made me think of a pop-up book.

In the end …

Especially the typography o the whole piece reminded me of old tales such as “The Pied Piper of Hamelin”. Also, the artwork has a classical touch and immediately made me think of the pictures one can find in old fairytale books.
Reading the story, I could clearly see how Hobo Lobo was influenced by “The Pied Piper” and I really liked the sarcastic tone of the piece.