Category Archives: student blogs

First Draft of the Revolution! Or is it?

 

First reading this piece, I thought it was pretty interesting especially as an English major that I was able to “edit” the letters before sending them out on this portal piece of elit. Interesting enough, I thought there would be different outcomes, but mid-way, I was eager to reach the end. I asked myself, when will this end, and when is it over? I later wanted the piece to finish and just let me read the piece like a regular story. One of the main characters Juliette, who has left the country for the summer, and her husband Henri, who has banished his wife because of pressure from his family were in a portal filled with letters that needed to be changed.

In the beginning of the story, it is revealed that both Henri and his wife are using magic paper to deliver instant letters to each-other. The point of the story is revealed through Juliette’s and Henri’s letters to one another. Interesting enough, the reader clicked through different portals of these letters following a provided change or edit within the text. It gives you great insight on revision and also how un-done the author made the reader think these letters were.

After a while, these edits were just becoming redundant and overbearing. I wanted to read a story that was consistent and had an accurate ending. I appreciated the playful edits and renditions of letter, however, mid-way I wanted it to be over. By helping to revise their letters, the reader exposes who the characters are. She doesn’t define or change them. Juliette, Henri, and the others are meant to have consistent personalities, and there’s nothing the reader can do to alter this.

A story that was written to be before the French Revolution, I found this piece to be similar to a novella. A novella that I was forced to watch as a child with my grandmother. These shows were many based on overly dramatized plots that had loads of screaming, crying, and misunderstandings. Overall, I enjoyed the click and interactive-ness of this piece, and also how it was a dated piece meant to play out before the French Revolution, anything written back in the day paved the way as they say. It could’ve been better in the whole flow of the story but I understand there was a purpose for that in this piece.

Thermopolis In Love!

The thought of having to join a so called “game” that was more like a blogging site seemed pretty interesting at first. It was the complete opposite of what I had expected it to be. Thermopolis in love described the characters as having different genders. It made corky and cartoony connection to different types of characters and how they played roles in this particular netprov game. At first hearing the word netprov, I thought of the word improve. Improv is a term that is usually used in theatre classes and plays where characters jump into acts and have to come up with things on the spot at the top of their head. Reacting and interacting in the game, I felt like improv was very much needed in order to effectively play the game. This game gave you a chance to embrace the characteristics of the character you were given. This gave netprovers opportunities to embrace being someone or something they wouldn’t regularly be. As a so called “fac” one of the characters in the game, I felt like my own personal personality did not embody what a fac really was. Networking and interacting with other facs made me feel like I didn’t belong, therefore, making me act and speak like someone I am not. Being a fac,

Gender: Fac
Formal Classification: Facultative thermophiles
Strengths: Shape-shifting gender. You conform to whatever situation you are in.
Propensity to develop different personalities, which to you are more like modalities.
Personality is just a tool. You are up for whatever. (Can cause jealousy as you flit about doing your thing.)
Propensity to lose yourself.
Weakness: Truth is relative to you; ‘lying’ isn’t in a concept to you.
Motto: Dare To be Similar
Other Genders: Feel connected and at home with you
Occupations: Explorer, investigative reporter, private eye, spy, political strategist

I feel like I did not embody the details of being a fac that are listed above. With that being said, I found it rather difficult to relate and not sound robotic. What also threw me off, was the science and biological terms that were used in this game. I was thrown for a loop trying to decipher what words meant what in order to continue on in this game. Even towards the beginning, I didn’t understand the point of the game, but obviously given the title “ Thermopolis in Love” gave it light. All in all, I thought the concept of the game was cool, however, I feel like they could of made it more fun being interactive and playing around with the characters more.

Artifice is the Engine

I'm glad Dave decided to present "First Draft of the Revolution" by Emily Short and Liza Daly; I was intrigued by this piece earlier in the semester when I was browsing through Volume 3.  The combination of an 18th century setting, with all the worries of a noble European family, and magical elements reminded me a little of the novel "Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell," despite the fact that said novel was set in the 19th century (if I remember correctly).  The woodcut images, elegant font, and book framing device all accentuate the period piece aspect, as does the period-appropriate language.  I also think it's interesting to have a piece of electronic literature mimic the publishing traditions of an earlier era; it draws the reader's attention to the artificiality of it.  This artifice is, I believe, a driving theme in "First Draft."

The metafictional elements (if you could call it that since the letters being sent aren't fiction to the characters; maybe metacompositional would be more appropriate?  Metaepistolary?) in the piece contrast with the magical elements to make the reader engage more fully its theme of artifice.  It creates a kind of irony, and I think it's metaphorical for the power of writing in general.  Because humans instinctively organize their thoughts and experiences through narration, when one writes, one has the power to alter reality; this is especially true if they're writing about history or experiences.  Like the magic in the piece, however, that power is tempered by societal norms.  Each time a character changes a piece of what they have written, whether the character is male or female, magic-user or not, they are giving away a little bit of their power, and they have made their communication more artificial.  The fact that the piece won't move forward until the reader has rewritten or erased certain parts of the letters emphasizes the fact that the authors wanted their readers to see how each writer is altering their words due to the expectations/possible reactions of others.  It's fascinating to see the different writing processes of each character (for example, Henri makes a list of the points he wants to address), and the limited choices for revisions also raise a number of questions about gender and society, both historical and modern. 

It's also worth noting that by involving the reader in multiple characters' writing processes, "First Draft" blurs the line between reader, writer, and fictional entity.  In this case, all three interact to create meaning, or to dilute it.  This feature is all the more powerful because the reader is seeing the true thoughts of multiple characters, so the reader is omniscient, and dramatic irony is infused into everything.  The reader is asked to act as every character, though, as if they don't know the truth of the other characters' thoughts.  This ties into what I was saying earlier about the surrender of power and the triumph of artifice over truth.  The reader must pretend they don't know all they do know in order to make revision choices and move the story forward.  Artifice is the engine, but is it only the engine driving the story, or is it driving all our lives?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

thermophiles in love

This past week of the netprov has definitely been interesting! I enjoyed the concept of Thermophiles in Love, specifically the idea of have five different genders; in particular, it made you think outside the box of gender performance, and therefore embody and become something entirely new and different. I think the idea definitely points us in the direction to be more accepting in real life, and be open to various gender identities, or having more than one of them (or none at all). The gender Regardless of the gender you do end up performing, you're still just a person searching for love, which is significant to note after playing TiL.

Admittedly, though, I was actually out of my comfort zone throughout the whole process. To begin with, I know virtually nothing of any cellular biological vocabulary / terminology - the context and language itself is pretty confusing for me and makes me eyes glaze over from traumatic flashbacks from high school science lab. Because of that, I felt hindered when I tried to make posts. I felt jealous of everyone whose posts seemed perfect and fitting, as their use of the language was so eloquent and fluent that they could even make hilarious and scientifically sound puns. On occasion, I tried to do the same, but it either elicited no response or was just weak in comparison. Additionally, I felt parts of my own personality stopping me from truly being involved in the experience, because I don't know how to sell myself / flirt with other people! Even though it was a netprov, I think we all still had a bit of a personal investment in our cell characters. As a fac, which seems the opposite of what I would have identified with in real life, it made it twice as hard to come off as confident, or even deceitful.

However, I enjoyed the narratives going on around me, even if I couldn't make myself into a more prominent role as a fac. Like I said, the idea itself was very cool, but I wish the context of it would have been something less sciencey!

Blog #7- Thermophiles in Love_Netprov

ther

When first entering the world of Netprov, Thermophiles in Love, I was excited as well as hesitant in approaching this new experience. When discussing this in class I immediately thought of it as an online dating site, but with a twist. I have never done any online dating so I didn’t know exactly what I was getting into, but knowing this assignment was for a class, I knew that there had to be something more to it, something worth learning about.

There were 5 different genders of cells you could have been and each had their own personality traits, just like humans have. The genders were basically stereotyped in a way we stereotype different groups in a high school setting. For example, Hype, was the so- called “jock” of the group in that those who were considered Hype were classified as, “too cool for school.” Another example of the type of different genders was Acido; those were the “outspoken and stuck- up” types who were mainly only concerned with their appearance the way a popular girl would be in high school. The gender I was assigned to be an Obli, and that gender, my gender, was considered to be a “sensitive soul” type of cell. We like to overthink every situation and choose our words carefully. It was funny to me that this was the gender given to me because that is kind of how I am in real life so it was very easy for me to get into my character. By the way, my character’s name is Obli_MimosaPudica and for those who do not know, Mimosa Pudica is a “shy” or “sensitive” plant and I found this appropriate to relate to the theme of cells and some kind of science related topic, and also it relates to the type of gender I was given.

Overall, I enjoyed playing this interactive collaboration for about half an hour everyday whenever I got the chance. I was able to break out of my shell, which as an Obli, was usually closed very tightly and not allowing others to enter. The only thing I found disconcerting was the theme of the entire Netprov. I felt as though if you did not have an decent background on the subject of cells or anything else relating to that then it was hard to understand some of the things the other players were discussing in order to remain focused on its theme. I found myself entering Google and trying to explore new types of phrases and ideas in a scientific method in order to portray a character that knew what I was trying to say and in a clever sort of manner.

While going through this experience day-by-day, I realized that people were really trying to portray their genders for what and who they really were, but I also noticed some genders trying to break free of that stereotype. For example, there were several Obli’s who explained their shyness and bashfulness, but explored the ideas of acting as if they were of the gender Hype, basically the total opposite of them. It was interesting to see people respond to my discussions, I did not believe I would receive so many comments and it was definitely a confidence booster for me in the Netprov, online world. My nervousness of the whole idea deceased more and more with each day that passed and I was able to make some great interactions with some great characters, whether they were in my same gender or in another gender.

Some new things I have learned from this entire experience were the connections people made and how when people are hidden by this kind of secret identity, they are much more opened into saying exactly how they feel. I connected this with electronic literature because of how I feel when I am reading someone else’s Elit piece and I try and notice the way I am feeling about that piece and at the same time trying to get a feel on the reader and how they want us, as the reader and as the audience to feel what messages they are trying to get across.

We were able to share our thoughts and ideas about the discussions we posted throughout the week and discovering the way other genders pursued not only their reactions, but the reactions of other cells only made it that much more interesting and that much for entertaining. This is what kept drawing me back, trying to discover what is being said and how it was being said. I definitely enjoyed this experience and felt no inconvenience when it came time to allowing myself to interact with these people who I either did or did not know.

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.

screen-shot-2016-11-02-at-12-05-43-am

 

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!

screen-shot-2016-11-06-at-4-46-18-pm

screen-shot-2016-11-06-at-4-46-15-pm

screen-shot-2016-11-06-at-4-45-33-pmscreen-shot-2016-11-02-at-12-38-13-am

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.

    

Blog #6- This Is How You Will Die

this-is
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!