Token: AR Textbooks

In class, we analyzed the work Between Page and Screen during our section on embodiment. This is a work that requires a degree of human interaction to be read. The book is a love story between the letters “P” and “S” and can be viewed as a form of art, as well as, a redefining work of literature. The user holds the book up to their webcam and the pages come to life on the screen!

Recently, an article was posted claiming that this technology could cross over into schools, as well. Augmented reality textbooks could soon be used in classrooms all over the world. The technology can be used to engage the user in what they are reading, so that the material may be better engrained. Not only that, but augmented reality textbooks can contain interactive games throughout the readings to make studying fun.

There has been some skepticism as to whether this technology could be implemented in the school systems, however. Apple has somewhat sabotaged themselves from being able to utilize iPads in the classroom, since textbooks would be purchased by individual Apple accounts and could, therefore, not be used from year to year. Not only that, but a lot of schools barely have enough money to upgrade a few desktops, so getting a class set of iPads would not be very plausible.

Stewart-Smith wrote that “changing an entire curriculum, an educational system, and retraining teachers is not something that could happen overnight. Companies like Apple innovating in educational technology is a step in the right direction, but there are any number of intermediate gadgets that could help ease the transition.”

Though expense may raise a concern for schools that need to account for every penny, augmented reality textbooks may be especially useful for those aiming to learn a new language. The book would not require as frequent changes as science ones and would help ease the frustration that can come with trying to learn a new language.

No matter what technology is used, I believe that embodiment is an excellent ideology that should be used in future teaching curriculums. From personal experience, I have retained more information that I have learned through interactive activities than through lectures. Children are being exposed to technology from a younger age each year, so implementing this into their learning is something that seems inevitable in my eyes. What are your thoughts?

Until next time,

Stay hungry, my friends

 

Final Reflective Blog

From the start to the finish, oh, what a journey it has been. After re-reading all my blog posts, I have realized that I tended to focus on broader themes rather than specific topics. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but I feel that analyzing more specific topics is more meaningful than analyzing broader ones. Not only that, but I found myself commenting that I should have been more direct with my connections in each post. I tried to make my blogs encompass the themes that we were discussing in class, but I did not mention those themes explicitly. I did notice that I tried to add a bit of humor every now and then in my blogs, as well, but I think I focused too much on my style of writing in the beginning and lost a bit of focus on the actual content itself.

In my first blog post, I made a lot of personal references and there was a noticeable stretch to connect my writing with the photo I chose. Even in my second blog post, although I had used a better fitting photo, my writing ended up taking a completely different turn than what the photo initially made it seem like it was going to be about. I did become excited when I noticed my first use of a hyperlinked text in my second blog post because it was a clear sign of some sort of improvement. My second blog discussed social norms and how they impact the type of literature we read as we get older, which could have been a good topic to discuss later in the semester. This topic could have paired well with our analysis of the different mediums people use to display their works, such as, with the app, Pry. Completing our own “port” also helped to solidify the idea that all forms of literature are valid sources of information no matter what society tells you.

Overall, I felt that my writing had a lot of weird transitions and jumped all over the place in the beginning blogs. Though I was not completely satisfied with my progress, I will say that, as time passed and as I gained more referencing knowledge, my blogs had a better flow to them, which is still an achievement worth celebrating.

Until next time,

Stay hungry, my friends

The Final “Port”

 

The Journey to Reach “The Quest”:

Project Statement and Reflection

By: Niccolla Emanuel

 

The Quest for Independence is a light-hearted game based off the movie, National Treasure. In the movie, Nicolas Cage plays a historian that believes that the Declaration of Independence holds clues to finding a rumored treasure. When betrayed by his colleague, Cage begins a race to get to the document first and discover the treasure before his ex-partner.

In the beginning of my game, we are introduced to our own comrade whose real name is not given. We are told, however, that if all else fails, her new name will become “Nicole Uncaged”, meant to mimic Nicolas Cage and add to the satirical tone of the work. Another way that I added to the tone of this piece was by using chocolate as one of my hints. Chocolate has nothing to do with the original movie and at first, this may seem like an irrelevant aspect to the game, but it is reoccurring and meant to stand out. If all the chocolate hints are pieced together, they can help the player achieve the objective. These random hints are a way to expedite frustration and keep the game fun. Some hints were more obvious than others (like a note falling from the ceiling), but, overall, I tried not to lose the essence of a mystery game. A portion of class was called The Random, but we mainly discussed computer generated components and not so much obscure artifacts that authors include in their work. Conceptual art is a form of randomness that I think can be used to best describe how I utilized the chocolate in this piece. At first, you see the chocolate, maybe chuckle a little, but you do not understand the meaning behind it. Conceptual art is based on ideas and at first glance, can make no sense, but once the thought process is revealed by the artist, everything in the image makes sense, just like in this game. Once you finally achieve your objective in, all the clues finally come together and a clearer understanding of their significance is reached.

One of my reasonings for making this game a spin-off of National Treasure was to show that not everything that is classified within the mystery genre needs to have a serious and suspenseful tone. Once the introduction to our objective is clarified, our partner leaves us to do the dirty work. Just as Cage was left without his original partner, I chose to keep this more of a solo game, depicting feelings of isolation that can occur when trying to reach a goal. Just like in the movie, each next step that should be taken is a mystery. The player must use clues to figure out what is important to their objective and what is not. Given time constraints, I chose to take certain scenes from the movie and mash them together to create a recognizable, but significantly shorter version of it in game format. I wanted the focus to be on the objective, so I tried to leave out any specifications of the user’s physical character, but kept it immersive by putting it in a mainly first and second-person point of view. I wanted there to be some aspects of embodiment within the work. I did not feel that The Quest for Independence was as embodying as Pry was, but it still required participation from the user in making decisions. I also tried to add emotion into the text to contribute to feelings of being a person about to steal the Declaration of Independence.

I had played a game through Quest prior to creating this one and really enjoyed the layout of it. The software, though it can be quite complex, appeals to creators from all technological backgrounds by having both an “advanced” and “simple mode” portion to it. Not only that, but it also allows the designer to view the code of their game if they would rather work through that medium. Through the software, one can make an interactive digital story/ game that Espen Aarseth would probably describe as being “ergodic”. This means that there is a trivial amount of effort required from the reader to proceed.

I really enjoyed talking about the Choose Your Own Adventure books in class and drew inspiration from them when trying to come up with ideas for this project. I knew that I wanted to use Quest since it would provide me with a wide range of options for making my aims come to life. I thought a puzzle/ mystery game would best utilize the space Quest can offer a creator.  Through this server, users can either click on the blue, hyperlinked words to enter a new space or observe various objects, use the arrow keys provided to move around, or type in what they want to do. The user cannot not see an actual map in front of them, but there is some form of comparative visual space. Each room has its own objects to be discovered and dialogue that occurs, no matter how long or short it may be. This work has a lot of spatial components to it and I felt that the server itself was somewhat sublime since its database could, possibly, allow me to make my project as long as I wanted – a never ending game. My piece started off in an empty hallway with four visible exits, but it is unknown the actual shape of this hallway. From the very start, where you choose to go and what you choose to do in each space will affect the ending of that game sequence.

The beginning screen setup for The Quest for Independence which depicts the different mediums for movement (hyperlinks, a compass, and typing in directions) as well as, the inventory and places and objects box, which help to keep the user organized throughout the game.

Like a book or movie, this game is finite, it has a beginning and, though there are multiple ways the story can go, there is still an end, as well. It is not as easy to solve a mystery as movies make it seem. Not everything will go perfectly and you will not always be given second chances to fix your mistakes. The game itself can take multiple tries before reaching a desired ending, but that is the fun of it. Though I would not classify this as a dysfunctional game, it is certainly not automatic and does not quite fit procedural guidelines. The player has freedom to roam the various spaces as they wish, but there is still some order in the way that they go and the way that certain directions and objects are placed. The player can either figure it out the game right away or take their time and choose to analyze every little detail. There is no right or wrong way to play and no matter what, a player will always reach an ending.

I changed the space that I created to reflect the time and mood that I wanted this piece to have. I gave it a blue background to represent nighttime. Though black could have been utilized, as well, I like that blue is less dark and reflects a less serious/ melancholic mood as a result. I thought about adding sound, but was unsure how far I would go with it, whether just a musical sound track to the whole work or just light chatter during only the ballroom scene. Overall, I figured a picture would be enough to give the work a little bit more excitement without overdoing it. I like that pictures can be a great addition to descriptions but, since this is a mystery game, I wanted to leave room for the imagination, as well. I chose to have the ballroom as the only scene with a photo because it appeared to be the most central location and where a majority of the action would be occurring (maybe not for the user, but for the imaginary guests at this ball).

Though Quest did provide me with some great tools for creating this work, it was a bit challenging to put it together, while trying to figure out the software, as well. There were not many aids that were easy to understand for the usage of particular utensils and functions. I also found it difficult to make things flow well without sounding too cheesy in this work. I found it hard to keep track of everything and make sure that my game did not have any loop holes. This became time consuming since the only way to really check if my game was going well would be to play it over multiple times. I mapped out rooms to make sure all the exits made sense and spent a lot of time figuring out how to fix loop holes and odd wordings in the game. Despite my carefulness, I understand that there are still many improvements that can be made in my game and maybe even some bugs that I was not able to catch. Quest claimed to have a debugger, but it was not very easy to use and, as a result, not very helpful. I would like Quest to create a spell checker component to their server to expedite additional worry over the presentation of the game. This project has given me a better understanding of the hard work that goes into creating things that I so often take for granted, such as video games and phone applications. I have gained a newfound appreciation for designers that put so much time and energy into apps that others may not even enjoy.

Beyond the Page

Image result for between page and screen
This image portrays the book Between Page and Screen in action. The user holds the book up to the screen and the web camera interprets the images into text.

After a few computer changes, I finally had a successful run through the book and it was not what I was expecting at all. When looking through the book, if you are unaware of what it is supposed to be, you may be very disoriented as to where the words are. Even if you do know how to access the “words”, the story is not exactly coherent.

From my experience, I viewed it as just that, an experience rather than a story. Maria Popova claims that the book actually “tells the love story of the letters P and S through minimalist, wordless black-and-white geometric patterns”. Though some of the images do appear to be some form of a “p” or ‘s”, I still struggle to see the correlation. When viewing the words via augmented reality, there does seem to be a pattern that occurs and just as the book claims, there are many artistic and poetic phrases that pop out. The poetic phrases have many alliterations, as well, so even if the phrase does not make sense, it stills holds a nice flow.

Just as the title suggests, the book goes beyond the physical to give the reader a new perspective as to what a book even is. From the book itself, it appears to be some form of artwork. Once online, the book becomes an interactive, poetic narrative that resembles the adult version of a pop-up book. The quick disappearances of the words that pop up on the screen takes the attention away from the incoherent words and places it on the artistic aspect of the work.

The minimalist nature of the book contrasts the complexity of the words written online. This juxtaposition enhances the works poetic and artistic aspects and allows the reader to focus less on trying to make sense out of the words appearing.

Should books like this be considered literature or are they something else, something more playful?

 Until next time,

Stay hungry, my friends

 

Not Your Typical HIStory Class

After an extremely long time downloading the game, I had finally arrived to Her Story. The letters began to fade and anticipation began to build. I started to overanalyze the fading letters. Once they disappeared, I began thinking that this was going to be a woman telling “her story” about someone getting hurt and having to go to the E.R. Little did I know, Her Story would consume all my time and energy for the rest of the afternoon.

From the first to the last video I clicked on, I went from feeling extremely confused to slightly less confused. I then did the only rational thing possible and Googled. What I found was this video that helped to fill in all the gaps.

I found it interesting how our brains are constantly searching for the meaning of things. From my first encounter with the game, I thought I had already figured it out and once I realized I was far from the “answer”, I went straight to Google for help.

Her Story is the type of interactive “game” that you either give up on after two minutes of confusion or that you stick it out until time runs out on you because you want your confusion to be at least somewhat resolved. I put “game” in quotations because there really is no winner of this and not even the YouTube video I found had a clear answer as to what really happened. The game is interactive and its lack of chronological video listings keeps you engaged while trying to piece the story together. This lack of order did make me question why it was listed for our “Procedural” topic, but it does show that moving through a story can be random, as well and doesn’t always need to make sense.

We view the world through such a narrow lens that we forget that things can deviate. Branching out and seeing others works of art that don’t fit the cultural norm, however, gives me hope that not everything has been discovered yet and that there are still creative individuals in the world willing to take risks, even if they aren’t found very popular as a result.

Until next time,

Stay hungry, my friends

Becoming a Product to be Sold

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This photo depicts data network effects, which means that as people use more data, their patterns are analyzed to create better products for their use. 

It’s no secret that companies like Facebook and Google are watching our every move. One accidental click on a website and then BOOM, the product you clicked on appears to be following you on every other site.

The photo above shows that as more people use data, companies use that information to create better sites, so that they can attract even more users. One example given in the article, “Token Network Effects”, is how Instagram utilizes “your engagement patterns to create a better photo stream”. A better photo stream attracts previous users to stay on Instagram for longer, which creates advertisement for Instagram and entices non-users to create a profile.

How much data is too much though?

When first entering the Network Effect site, I was overwhelmed with data. Each word that I clicked on appeared to contain an endless line of videos and I wanted to watch them all. As time pressed on, I thought that if I wanted to get the most out of the site, I would have to click on a variety of words instead. I did not know what would happen once time was up, which made me feel anxious. Once it was all over, however, I felt a bit frustrated at the fact that I couldn’t re-enter the site. I quickly wanted to go over the work, so that I could have a better understanding of it, but I also greatly appreciated the fact that I could not (no matter how many times I closed the browser and tried to reopen it).

We spend so much of our lives trying to absorb everything that we forget to just enjoy things as they come. We feed into consumerism and commercialism and remain numb to the world around us. We have become a society that is impatient at being patient and as a side effect, we are missing out on socializing with those right in front of us. As I write this, I waved at my friend, but he was so engrossed on his phone that he did not notice me until I said his name. Maybe if we started looking up more, our relationships with each other would improve, but I’m only a millennial, what do I know about face-to-face interactions, right?

Until next time,

Stay hungry, my friends

Let’s Play Video! (Revisions in comments)

 

In this video, I discuss the game “The Bafflement Fires”. There is a lot of tension between the gaming and literary world, but this piece blurs the line between the two, as well as, the line between fact and fiction. This is not only a participatory game, but also a form of electronic literature that incorporates fictional characters and questions as fact within the work.

This game, though it’s questions and design are dysfunctional, holds some procedural aspects since the player must go through the game turn by turn. While going through the game, you enter Jason Nelson’s world. Peter Rabinowitz believed that “while books do sometimes have the power to take readers out of themselves, that power is limited. Nor is that limitation necessarily to be lamented. Despite romantic notions about the beneficial consequences of great art, books are in fact capable of moving readers in immoral as well as in moral directions.”

Nelson’s complex game claimed that it could change people’s minds on certain issues. Of course, this is a false claim in reality, but in Nelson’s world, this ties in perfectly with Rabinowitz’s point. Not only that, but this intricate nature may even cause the user to question their views on defining great artworks after playing Nelson’s game.

The dysfunction causes the player to only notice pieces of what is going on in the game and forces them to create meaning out of what they do end up grasping. Everyone’s experience will be different, but I believe Nelson’s intentions were to change the users outlook towards art, literature, and games after playing and help them see the similarities they all hold.

 

Scary Humor

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This meme is a scene out of “Scary Movie 3”.

“This House Has People in It” is not your typical horror film. The film was created by Alan Resnick for the nighttime programming called Adult Swim. The programming is known for broadcasting parodies and cartoon shows for adults that might not necessarily be cartoons.

In the video “This House Has People in It”, Resnick starts off with a coding sequence that appears to tap into a stereotypical American family’s security cameras. Viewing through the cameras is a parody of many different horror films, specifically the Paranormal Activity series, meant to incite a creepy vibe throughout the film. The key in this video is to understand the context. Knowing that Adult Swim is known to create parodies meant to mock pop culture, some people may already get the reference and begin to laugh. Not knowing this, however, may cause the viewer to watch the film as though it were meant to be a scary film taken seriously, which could create feelings of discomfort instead.

The film is more of a mystery left unsolved and though it is a YouTube video that cannot be altered by the audience, it can still be interactive. The viewer can either pause the video or search the comments section to find out more about what is going on in the film and see if there are any hidden clues.

One YouTube comment described this video as being “next level horror”. The Creators website posted an article about the video that claimed that “we collectively find more humor in unsettling situations than we do in more traditional comedic setups”.

When I was younger, I would laugh when getting a shot to ease the fear I felt leading up to it. I would look away, so I wouldn’t see the needle, but I would suddenly feel the pinch and my initial look of pain would turn into a giggle. I was basically laughing at myself for being affected by such a small thing. In a similar way, I think this video becomes humorous when we begin to expect it to be, even during moments that may traditionally be scary in a “real” horror film.

By the end of the film, the grandma is still watching TV, the baby is off hanging out in the wilderness, and all the party guests are lying on the floor, just like the daughter was. In a dark way, it is funny, but unless you are able to break it down further than what you know horror films to be and what you are viewing, the joke may “fall flat”.

Until next time,

Stay hungry, my friends

 

 

 

A Backwards Poet Writes “Inverse”

The video above is an advertisement for the app, ABRA: A living text.  In this app, users are given random poems that they can tamper with using their touch. The user can erase, mutate, prune, and even craft their own words for the poem. There’s even a “cadabera” button that acts as a wildcard and can input emojis instead of words or even highlight certain words, while dimming others.

The app reminds me a lot of the Tracery assignment we just completed, since it is randomly generating poems, except it is a lot more interactive than the projects we created. This allows the user to have complete creative liberty and turns them into the author instead of just the reader.

I was a little disappointed that the app was lacking whimsical background music, but I think that that allows users to create poems that are uninfluenced by emotional exploitation. Whimsical music in the background may cause users to tap into a specific memory or emotion as opposed to simply creating something based solely off what they are feeling now.

The app was entertaining, but I think their promotional video makes it seem a lot more logical than it is. In comparison to the Tracery project, I felt the app was not as inspiring for my creative side as the project was. The app simply jumbles around some words and calls it poetry, but I think the lack of structure leads me to view it more as a game as opposed to an inspirational tool. Maybe that’s just me. Would love to hear your thoughts!

Until next time,

Stay hungry, my friends

What’s Your Love Language?

For this project, I generated a satirical story with varying scenarios called, Roaming Fast and Furious Love. This was partially inspired by Shakespeare’s, Romeo and Juliet, using the characters and car related ideologies from the movie series, Fast and Furious. The work starts off with the introduction to the characters, develops a conflict, and then concludes with some sort of solution for the conflict. Since the story does discuss “love”, I decided to use red for the title, since it is the stereotypical color for passion. I made the choice to italicize the emotions in the story to bring attention to a conflict that may not be as straightforward. At first read, one may think that the only issues arise between the families, but, the lovers of the story face their own emotional struggles that may cause them to reevaluate their relationship status. The font I chose reminded me of a stereotypical car movie’s font choice, which is why I decided to incorporate it into my own story.

When creating computer-generated stories, critics may discuss the issue of authorship. In the chapter, “The Death of the Author”, Roland Barthes claims that the “author is thought to nourish the book, which is to say that he exists before it, thinks, suffers, lives for it, is in the same relation of antecedence to his work as a father to his child” (page 145). Barthes believes that when there is a clear author, the text can better be explained. Though I somewhat agree with this statement, I would argue that though a computer-generated story might not make complete logical sense, the creator can still justify their creation, just as I broke down my thought process in the beginning of this post. Some critics go further and ask whether a computer-generated story can even be considered a “story” if it is not reasonable. In the novel, Mainframe Experimentalism, Hannah B Higgins and Douglas Kahn quote John Morris who claims that “computers and programming are incapable of capturing the nuances of poetry” (page 261).  The rest of the article goes on to debate whether computers can create poems and other literary works and ultimately finishes with the statement that we should change the way that we evaluate literature, which I would agree with. I believe that people can become too comfortable within their boundaries and forget that those boundaries can be broken, and once they are, innovation and creativity can have room to flourish and grow. Though a computer may not have the emotions to go into a poem or novel, it can still create an abstract piece of art that other artists can use as inspiration to build off. This somewhat plays into the last criticism of whether or not coding should be considered a language, which is discussed in, “Critical Code Studies” by Mark C. Marino. Marino claims that “the computer does not understand what it says. Literally speaking, the computer does not even interpret that code…language becomes divided between the operational code and data,” which I would somewhat disagree with. Many consider coding to be another language spoken between the programmer(s) and the computer. As a student learning the intricacies of code, I would say that I would not take it seriously as a work of text as the article concludes. Reading and interpreting code is like someone speaking to you solely in riddles, since you constantly think and analyze through a series of symbols and/ or algorithms. Coding can create beautiful works, but I would compare it to a blueprint as opposed to the finished product. I hope that through this project, people will be introduced to this growing form of artwork that isn’t necessarily easily explained. Just like with my project, I create the code and the computer interprets what I write to spit out the product. I am the supplier of words and the computer, in my opinion, is the author of the story, piecing everything together to form a, possibly confusing, but still complex masterpiece waiting to be interpreted.

Works Cited

Barthes, Roland. “Image-Music-Text Paperback – July 1, 1978.” Image-Music-Text: Roland Barthes, Stephen Heath: 9780374521363: Amazon.com: Books. N.p., n.d. Web.

Higgins, Hannah B., and Douglas Kahn. “Mainframe Experimentalism.” University of California Press. N.p., n.d. Web.

Marino, Mark C. “Critical Code Studies.” Critical Code Studies | Electronic Book Review. N.p., n.d. Web.