Can I Ask You a Question???

Thousands of Other Questions, created by Winnie Soon and Helen Pritchard, is a work that is manifested by incorporating many different elements of electronic literature. It is a work that involves using headphones to ask listeners thousands of different questions drawn from Twitter. This is representative of one of Murray’s properties of digital environments, which is that they are procedural. This work is exemplary of a procedural environment as produces its questions by searching for tweets incorporating the “?” character. One headphone extracts live tweets via Bluetooth, while the other headphones speak archived questions from the Twitter database. Using social media, such as Twitter, is incredibly effective as it is essentially just one massive database containing an incomprehensible number of questions. Databases are non-hierarchal, and the sequence does not matter, so it works incredibly well with this work, as it attempts to bombard the listener with random questions.

This screenshot is from a promotional video for the work. It shows two women experiencing the work first hand. They appear to be overwhelmed and obviously confused.

Another interesting aspect of the work is its uncanniness. With this work we can easily relate back to the “Uncanny Valley,” which is a phenomena that states that the more human-like something is, the more like-able it is. However, at a certain point it can become revolting. In the case of this work, the voice that poses the questions is quite humanoid, but it is almost to the point where it is unsettling.

This work forces the listener to listen at a pre-determined speed, and to listen at a pace that is most likely outside of their comfort zone. This relates to Dakota, a project created by Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries. Dakota is similar to Thousands of Other Questions, because it also force feeds its story to the reader at an uncomfortable speed.

Overall Thousands of Other Questions is compelling, as it brings to light certain questions that may otherwise get swept under the rug, and it is definitely worth checking out!


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