All posts by dankla

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?


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.


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.

The hobo lobo of hamelin

this is my review of the hobo lobo of hamelin, and then some rambling about dwarf fortress:

What got my attention.

What first attracted me to the hobo lobo, was the aesthetic, the way the style blended 2D and 3D like effects without using 3D reminded me of Darkest Dungeon. (DD is a 2D game with this action shot like animation, where the animation is only a few frames, the way its drawn and animated makes it feel very alive and engaging.)

Darkest Dungeon example gif

And it almost had the look of a digital incarnation of a popup book. But as I got further into the hobo lobo I found the story engaging and the imagery very much to my liking, and the use of sound later in the pages works really well.

The hobo lobo is inspired by the story of pied piper, if you’re not familiar with the story, pied piper is a story about a rat catcher named pied piper, who was hired to remove the rats from a town called Hamelin. He was offered 1000guilders for the job, then the mayor stiffed him om the reward money, the pied piper then uses his magic pipe to lure all the children away, here some versions diverge. In some versions, the pied piper kills the children (either drowning or luring them into a cave), and in others he leads them away to a better land. This is clearly the basis of the hobo lobo. But the hobo lobo is not simply a retelling of the pied piper, even with some of the same elements, the narrative has changed.


What is the hobo lobo like, and what the navigation is like.

The hobo lobo is a side-scrolling visual novel. That’s not entirely descriptive enough, when you enter the hobo lobo, there is a field in the middle of the screen, about 1 third of the screen, with the visuals, the bottom half of the screen is reserved for the text, or lexias.

You can navigate on the top, by pressing the numbers, and that gives a floating navigation, that passes where you are going and then goes a bit back, a very nice effect that brings out the 2D depth of the visual aspect. If the numbers navigation not had this effect, you could have missed the very nice animation effects of the piece. The other way of navigation is simply using the arrow keys, you can go back and forwards as you wish.

Leonardo Flores noted that the use of the infinite canvas in the visual style to create the depth, and using the depth to create new things to find at every angle. And I think that’s the reason I like to use the arrow keys, to be able to look back at the scene, see what I missed.

In the comic podcast, “the comics alternative podcast”, they mention that the hobo lobo is not really accessible on other devices than desktop, I mean you can see it on mobile or a pad device, but it’s not recommended or any good. The scrolling effects and the depth of the piece is lost on a mobile device, and you have to scroll down to read all the time. This was something I had not considered, when reading it on desktop, they also point out that the hobo lobo is not something that would work printed out, the depth and the scrolling effect would be lost on paper. The consideration of where, how and what devices a piece works on is something to consider when looking deeper into a piece.

Hashtagoctothorpe is a blog on WordPress, its written by a creative writing student at the University of North Florida, and they had some sharp observations on the literary references in the hobo lobo.
The homages to different literary works was not as obvious to me, but after reading the blogpost I had (yet) another look at the  hobo lobo, and I discovered, if not new meaning, then a new angle to view the hobo lobo. I especially like the line “This was noticed” now, after Hashtagoctothorpe pointed out its pointient placement. I did pause at the image of the boy kicking a ball against a wall, but it was only after a second look at the hobo lobo, and the line “This was noticed”, did I catch the meaning.


As far as genre is concerned, the hobo lobo can be different things, it’s kind of a interactive fiction. And there is no real choices in the piece, but you have the control of the pacing (except the last page). And you are left up to yourself to discover the secrets of the story, but as there is no choices, it’s not a full-fledged interactive fiction piece, in my opinion. It’s also much like a digitized poetry, as many of the lines are poetic, and many of them are stabs, or references to other texts and poetry. And it is more like epoetry than anything else, but I have to mention that many people talking about the hobo lobo, mentioned that it was like a digital comic, where the style and the imagery is something out of a comic, but the way it uses digital tools, i.e. the depth and the sound, is wholly digital and unlike comics. Still I think there is something to consider, would electronic comics be a good genre to include in the electronic literature world? could electronic comics be something that we see more of? Even in the mainstream pop culture world? I would read them, that I know.

Final thoughts.

Damn I like this piece, what first attracted me to the hobo lobo was the aesthetic, and after looking at the hobo lobo several times it’s still the best thing about it for me. Now the political overtones of the piece are really noticeable, and I like the way it is done, the boy not finding someone to play ball with, the streets being quiet, the mood changing. This reflects on the meaning of the original pied piper, where evil deeds are seldom rewarding, but further than that, problems in the world seldom have an easy solution.

i would wholeheartedly encourage you to check it out.






Dwarf fortress and games as elit.


Now I am not going to go on and on about what should be the definition of games and electronic literature, even though it’s a good debate. There is something else I would like to bring up for discussion, if dwarf fortress is electronic literature (and I think it is) then what other games are as well, and is the player the writer of these works?

What is dwarf fortress?

Dwarf fortress is a game created by Tarn Adams and Zach Adams, the work began in 2002, and the first alfa of the game released in 2006, the game is completely free. Dwarf fortress is a simulation game, and it utilizes ascii art as the graphics, ascii code represent text in computers, but is used as the graphics for the game. Here are two pictures, the first the original, second, the game with a graphics pack (aka a mod)

orginal dfmodded df

Now it’s not 100% clear to me from reading the description in the elit collection, why dwarf fortress is in the collection. The possible reasons are not mutually exclusive.

One, when you create a world in dwarf fortress the game simulates a legend of the world, who exists, what they do, who is going to war, who won. It does this year by year, until the year you specified. Now this creates a story which is random, and reacting to other random things that happen, and you can read what happened in what is called a legends reader, or discover it by meeting races and people in game. This in itself can be electronic literature, the number of different things that can happen is huge, and you can simulate a thousand years, and then read about all the individual people that lived for those thousand years.

Two, it can be all that, and what you as a player ends up changing as you play, when you play you influence the story of the world, and you can change what could have happened.

Three, it’s the story’s that you as a player experience in this world that has been randomly generated, and the ways you deal with challenges and the random things that happen.


Now the interesting question here, is does the player create the story? We have discussed the part of the user in class before, when someone reads electronic literature, do you create when you interact with it or is it the work that is. Does my reading of a work that has choices change the story, or is it the work that does the work?

Does this change in a game like dwarf fortress? Does all the random generation, and player agency change that to be a player writing a story, not necessary for anyone else, but for himself.

If you would agree with me that the third option here is not that farfetched, could other simulation games, where the player changes so much that two games are never the same, and the worlds cannot be recreated, could this also be electronic literature?

I know that this is further into the realm of speculation, and I don’t want to press an argument based on too many what ifs, but I challenge you to play a game of civilization, dwarf fortress or rimworld, see what stories you can create.

Here is a link to someone reading a player story, I found it to be really interesting.

And here is a link to a video discussing the stories in dwarf fortress, and the player creating them.

Back again!

This is the first blogpost in a while, i have been off from school, and I kind of dint think I would be using this blog for a while. But now I am taking a class in Electronic literature and we are going to blog about the works we are looking at for class, so here goes!


Soliloquy is a work by Kenneth Goldsmith, where he recorded every work he said for a whole ween, in 1996. The work itself is presented in the days Monday through Sunday, then split into 10 parts, probably to make it more manageable. The chunks of text or lexias, are hidden unless you hover over them with your cursor, all except the first lexia on each page. The lexias can be just one word, or up to about two sentences.

There is an exception, on page 2 on Monday the line “This is really cool.” Is shown in addition to the first line. After checking the code, I found that it is a code error, and most probably not intended to be shown. If it was intentional it would probably not have been done by code error, but intentional in the code.blog1Soliloquy2.png

Back to Soliloquy

Now in the electronic literature class we have been talking about how we read electronic literature, what strategies we use. The first time saw that the text appeared when I hovered over it with the cursor I immediately tried to select all (CTRL=A), it worked and I could read all the text on that page, I read almost a full page like this. Then I thought that this was a terrible way to read the work, first, if that was the intended way to read it, why hide all the text? And secondly it was way too much text, there is seven days with ten pages each. Thirdly, when all the text was visible, the individual lexias all became jumbled into one big one.

So, I decided to not select all, instead just to mark random lexias, and see if any of them took my interest, and the work became much more enjoyable.

That’s how I read, now for what I read.

The work, as I stated above. It’s a record off all the things Kenneth Goldsmith said for a whole week. In my random look at the days I found a bit about porn that I thought was funny, also he mentioned using Internet explorer, and explaining how to search to someone. That was funny to me, but in general I found the work to be much more enjoyable when I was just randomly looking through it, and not reading everything.


I spent some time just trying to find a theme, first I was looking for a theme for the whole thing, then I looked for themes for the days, but I ended up thinking that there is no “theme”, in the sense that there is no real purpose to the work, no end goal, but that’s not a bad thing is it?

It seems to me that randomly looking at things a person says during a week is much like meeting that person, unless you spend every waking moment with that person you can’t know all the things they say, you will only hear somethings, and if you’re lucky, you’ll hear the interesting things.

That is what I came out of this piece thinking, all in all, it was quite enjoyable to look at.

Ryan Reynolds is funny on twitter, but is it the real Ryan? This and more Clickbait…

I have been looking at Ryan Reynolds, and much like the rest of the internet I found him hilarious.


But looking at the social media output of Ryan, how much is it Ryan saying all this funny stuff and how much is the Performed Self, like Erving Goffman talk about in his book “The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life”. Even Ryan Reynolds says something about this, look at his description on twitter:

“Introducing people to the version of myself which tested highest in the focus groups.”


This clearly is funny, he is using sarcasm to deflect the idea that we present only the best sides of ourselves, or is he admitting that we all act differently in different situations. It’s what Erving Goffman talked about as wearing different masks and controlling how we appear. We adapt what we are in different situations.

Then what?

Ryan Reynolds is an actor, or plays the role of one, he is a dad, he is a lot of different things to different people, and the ting we are discussing here is what is the real Ryan, and for that matter, what is the real version of any of us?


Well Erving, thought that we play different roles for different people, and that we don’t necessarily have a fixed person beneath all that fluff we make up to look good in a certain situation. But he also talks about a back-stage self and a front stage self, the back-stage self is the person you are, and the way you act when you are with people you are comfortable with. The front stage self is the version we present when you don’t know the people you are socializing with. The fallback, the job interview self, the one we use when we need to put our best foot forwards.

Ryan Reynolds wants to look like he is all jokes, and he uses his twitter to front the version of him that is willing to share intimate jokes about his family.

Anyways this is a lot of fumbling without any real thoughts on why I’m saying all this about Ryan. Now we all (probably) agree that the Ryan Reynolds on twitter, or Facebook, or in a parent teacher conference is not the whole and full Ryan Reynolds. Why then, look at twitter and say this, anyone could say:

“he is being funny on purpose!!!!”



I do this, and think its important to do this to figure out if we have one true identity beneath all the other fluff, of the self we have in our minds eye is truly something we control. What if all this, our identity, is a reflection on the people around us and the people we like?

Still the question of why and how our identity is built, especially on the web, and in social media, is one of the most interesting questions in digital humaniora (humanities) today.

And sorry for the clickbait…..

Follow Ryan on Twitter:

Twitter research and the public sphere


I have been looking at twitter all week, and the public spheres therein. We have been using a program, or a script, used from Google drive, to look at twitter, using twitters AIP.

Was  that to fast?

All right, we used something called TAGS, to look at what’s going on at twitter. The program is easy enough to use, you need a Google account and a twitter account. Then follow the guide. Then you can find all the tweets using one or several #hashtag. Pretty cool stuff.

We are using the twitter API, and API is an Application Programming Interface, is the instruction set created for developers to interact with some type of program or database. Normally we would look at twitter from the website, but using the API we can look at lots of tweets and gather a lot of them,

But then what?

Well we are going to collect a lot of tweets, about 50000, and then we can get working on the meta aspect of it all, but for now it’s pretty cool to gather all the tweets on a subject.

Things to look at and read.

TAGS website! Pretty cool.

Interested in the twitter API? Here is further reading in what it is and the different versions

Word2vec and all that jazz.

Wikipedia assingment

Last week we had an assignment, to use word2vec and see what it could be used for, as it was a group assignment, we misused our time on the assignment, a bunch. but in the end we pulled trough, it was actually very interesting, first tho.

What the hell is word2vec?

Word2vec is a group of related models, but you can think of it as a program. A program that takes a shitton of words, like say, Wikipedia, and gives all the words a vector. A vector is two points in a reference map with a direction (you should know this from high school math) think of an x, y scale, like the ones used in graphs, the you put in two points, and draw a line between them. Give that line a direction, heading up, or down or whatever, that is a vector. All of this was created by researchers at google led by Tomas Mikolov.


With all these words now put into vectors, we can start using word2vec, at first we were given examples of how we could use the program, if you input; man is to king as woman is to BLANK, the program spits out queen as the most likely. now you may look at that and think, that`s not really impressive, the kicker is that no one taught the program this. We can do more complex executions with words2vec, if you give it four words, and ask it to pic one that is the least like the others, more times than not it will select the missplaced one.

Now what we did on this project was trying to find how we could use word2vec in translating programs, a very high goal if you ask me, and we failed. we readjusted our ambitions on a more reasonable search, how to use word2vec to study something in Wikipedia. and it worked out quite well. even though we wanted to do more, time is a cruelest mistress.

in the end.

we did work out something useful in the end, but i still think that looking at word2vec in a translating way is exiting, and way to BIG to look at for us right now. The most relevant thing we worked out was the clear limitations of the word2vec program, using double words or case sensitive words did not work out to well, all in all it was a fun assignment, i could post our findings, but since i’m not very proud of our failing to look at the translation value of word2vec, i’m not going to.

whats this?

Hi, my name is Daniel, I am currently working on my bachelors thesis at the university of Bergen. This blog will be used to talk about all the stuff i will be doing, and assignments during that time. Its not going to be the most exiting thing in the universe, my hope is that i can make it durable to read these posts.