So, here we are at the end of the Digital culture 103 course. The only thing remaining is this blog post and the exam. I have to say that I have enjoyed writing these blog posts and the experience of a different way of learning. I think that learning by reflection has been a fun way of learning and felt less tedious than reading and taking notes alone. I have spent quite a few hours writing, thinking about and researching the contents of these blog posts, although the blog posts for the video game section of this course was by far my favourite posts to write!
The dda’s has also been a fun element to this course, although a bit easy to put on hold when there is too much to do, and the stress is getting to you. I have to admit I have fallen a bit behind on them lately. Maybe I will do a few and pop into this blog post, just for shits and giggles.
For this blog post I will be taking a closer look at the E-lit piece High Muck a Muck: Playing Chinese, this is an interactive poem in the Hypertext fiction/poetry genre. I will also write a bit about a twitterbot I made. I named the twitterbot TheBotWitch, but more about that later. First lets have a look at High Muck a Muck.
As I mentioned above this poem is a Hypertext poem, which means that you click on links that lead you to connected parts of the text or separate unconnected elements of the Hypertext piece.
For High Muck a Muck this is visual elements that lead to different stories and experiences from the immigrants contributing to this piece. The way I experienced reading this text, was to find elements of a whole and piecing them together to form a picture of what it ment to be an immigrant in general and in this particular setting; immigrating from China to Canada. This gave me an insight into the lives and experiences of the people contributing to this piece.
One moves through this text clicking in interactive elements that link to different texts, audio clips and videos telling stories that I experience as parts of a whole, a bigger picture. Some of the interactive elements are animated and will react to the cursor with movement as well as being a clickable element that leads to another piece of the story.
I found this piece very engaging, and its complex multimodality enhanced the experience. Background noises helped set the scene, and audio of people telling their story added to the immersion and the empathy one experienced for the people and their experience as immigrants. The slight kinetic element of moving text and animated drawings gave the piece a dynamic and organic feel that kept the piece from feeling stagnant and boring. The style of the drawn elements and background audio added to the Chinese feel the piece has. This piece consists of, text, audio, video, drawn artwork and animation, creating a complex multimodal expression.
To me this reads as a comment on immigration. The experience of building a new life, a new society away from everything that is familiar, and the challenges and opportunities that this presents. I also think that it reflects on culture and identity. What happens to your culture and identity in a situation where you find yourself in a new and strange country, trying to build a new life? How do you keep hold of your identity and yet adapt to a new culture? I think that there is a hint in the second generation immigrants but also in the reflections of immigrants who are at the last phases of a life as an immigrant. Culture and identity is ever evolving and changing, and you can see this when older immigrants reflect on their lives in the new country and the culture, identity and traditions of second generation immigrants. The culture, identity and traditions from the “old” country gets merged with the ones they pick up from the new one, and then creating new ones, adapted to their new lives. This is a lengthy process, and also a difficult one. Other elements of meaning I take with me from this is, how people in the country receiving the immigrants reacts to this. How their reactions often makes it harder for the newcomers to adapt to their new life, and feel like they belong. I think this is important to keep in mind, not to push people away, just because they are the “others”. They bring with them a culture that is unfamiliar, but what we sometimes forget is that ours is just as unfamiliar to them. I think we should use this insight into what it can mean to be an immigrant, to be more compassionate, understanding and perhaps learn a thing or two from our new residents. The unknown is only the unknown if you let it, and it is only scary if you let it remain as the unknown.
I round off this close reading of High Muck a Muck with a little song about fear, that I have shared before. But I think that it summes up acting on irrational fear without educating oneself before acting. If we bother to do so, I think this world would be a better place. Beneath the video I will write a bit about my experience with creating a twitterbot.
The next thing I want to write about is the twitterbot I created. This is also a different genre of E-lit; Generative fiction. This is literary works that is created by sets of rules or by using algorithms. This allows the writer to create works that seem to have a random element to them but is created by fixed rules hid in the background.
The twitterbot I created has a fixed overall structure, but certain elements within this structure gets chosen randomly from a selection of words.
I had some issues trying to create this bot, and at first when I initiated it to tweet I thought I had failed and was ready to give up. However, I was mistaken, and it did work. At this point I thought yaay!!!! But then, I realised that I had not really created anything. The bot was using a pre made recipe for the text it was tweeting. So then I had to figure out something fun and interesting for this bot to generate.
I did not have a plan for what this twitterbot was going to be, nor did I have a neat and thoughtful name for the bot. The name I ended up with was TheBotWitch, and was just a spontaneous random name that popped into my head, most likely because I am currently reading the books the game The Witcher is based on. Excellent books by the way, worth having a look at.
When I was fiddling around with the word options for the random element of the generated text, I figured I would give it a witchy feel. By that I mean words like potions, spells, herbs for one section of randomness, names of crystals and minerals for another and different fantastical creatures like dragons, elves and gnomes for the last witchy random elements. The other random elements are colours and adjectives. I also added a @netnarr in order to spam the Netnarr backchannel a bit with my bot. Then I realised the connection to Netnarr! We call ourselves digital alchemists, and alchemy and witchery is kind of part of the same genre of things. I came to the conclusion that it was quite fitting although the idea was quite spontaneous and random. I also figured I needed a profile picture for both the twitter profile and the google profile I created in order to create the twitterbot, it is my own creation and just really a quick sketch of a stereotype witchy character.