I just discovered that there’s an iPad version of Marc Saporta’s Composition No.1 (one of the example boxed texts from Visual Editions we used in class last week). Here’s the marketing blurb for their digital version: The Composition No. 1 iPad app looks at different ways of bringing to life the book’s non-linear reading experience. The app brings the idea of “reading the book in any order” to a new level, forcing the whole randomising experience onto the reader. How does it work? The pages don’t stop moving unless you physically hold them down with your finger, forcing you to engage with the book in a completely new way. And yes, those letter landscapes do still play some role.
I was talking in class last week about a “canonical” e-lit piece that I couldn’t remember the name of but that used links/shifts in text in unusual ways. Turns out, the project I was thinking of was “The Jew’s Daughter” by Judd Morrissey, with contributions from Lori Talley. First published in 2000.
The ELO describes the project like this: The Jew’s Daughter is a work that renegotiates the concept of the hypertext to present a reconfigurative narrative. As the reader moves the mouse over links, segments of a page replace one another fluidly, giving the reader the sensation of watching a single page evolve step by step into another kind of textual instrument with its own sense of narrative rhythm. *They also provide files you can download to experience the project, if you’re having trouble with the online version.
* Thanks to Kelsey for this week’s really thoughtful workshop materials. Once again, I thought I’d post a few links that her materials called to my mind (since my expertises are, perhaps, more askance of hers, some of these may seem a stretch). I was particularly taken with her invitation to consider “other non-technically demanding ways to invite the work we want when we assign video essays.”
I’ve started asking students to collect what Transom calls sonic IDs. They do this before we do any formal work on audio production, but could (I think) do them as standalone pieces leading toward non-audio assignments. I tell them these should be short and unscripted and that I’m not concerned at all about recording quality. (Although, we do go over some basics like: test your recording software before you need it and make sure you know where the mic on your computer or phone is, so you can think about positioning it). I tell them 10 seconds is plenty for an ID and that one should definitely be no more than a minute. That just a funny story from a friend or roommate is perfectly acceptable.
Cowbird is a platform that pitches itself as “a public library of human experience.” They say, “Our mission is to gather and preserve exceptional stories of human life… We offer a simple set of storytelling tools, designed to encourage contemplation and depth—for free, and without ads.” Most stories are really just a couple images paired with a brief text, but I can imagine requiring students to choose a “seed” (prompts the site provides) as a way of getting brief student works into circulation. Their idea of the site as a commons is also relevant to some classes we might teach.
Similarly, there have been a spate of brief articles about teaching microvideo with Instagram and Vine, and I can imagine something like asking students to participate in one of Instagram’s sponsored weekend hashtag projects grounding an assignment in an approachable way. Not quite for beginners in very short amounts of time but pretty doable — How To Make a Vine Using Stop Motion via Photojojo and Matt Willis.
Thinking about this Adweek article on Vine Stop-Motion Artists Doing Work for Brands also started me thinking about some other contexts in which teaching advertising examples or principles might make sense as an extension of work on GIFs.
To this end, asking students to create 360-degree product adverts via video with something like Shoogleit might be interesting. This is also a cool tool for creating “interactive” time lapse of places (for those who work on either spatial rhetoric or literatures of place).
If the idea is less to work on circulation and uptake and more to work on collaborative composition in a “new” media form, giving each student one word to create a photo of and then assembling something like Shelley Jackson’s Snow Story might be a great non-technically demanding way to start working with the poetics of media and typography. (Although, this story was also pretty viral in certain circles last year. So a project like this could also be about circulation.)
Another very different direction to take this would be to consider how GIFs have been used to capture glitches. I got lured into this (commercial) outfit’s technical description of different hardware glitches. I also like this piece on The Radical Capacity of Glitch Art by Lital Khaikin on redefine for the way it distinguishes glitch art from “raw error.” I can imagine this being cool for either looking at the glitch in a media studies or art historical way or in terms of “traditional” composition where—as a field—we’ve been amassing studies on “error” (and its aesthetics and consequences and potentialities) for a long time.
* Thanks to Molly for this week’s really thoughtful workshop materials. I’ve been thinking a lot about annotation and the history of hyperlink fiction in relation to some very different assignments, so I thought I’d post a few links that her materials called to my mind:
In terms of thinking about doing annotations with students, I can’t recommend the article “A Visual Approach to Syntactical and Image Patterns in Annie Dillard’s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek: Essay & Images” on Anna Maria Johnson’s annotation work enough. Seriously. Click through and look at all the pictures right now.
Stefanie Posavec’s “Writing Without Words” visualizations are also wonderful. Especially this visualization of every sentence in On the Road. The analysis for these was all done by hand, the images created in Adobe Illustrator – no programming knowledge or dig data tools necessary.
The Canadian poet and master typographer Robert Bringhurst writes on the materiality of reading and writing in many places – and his experience with Native North American languages and storytelling traditions inflects this work in significant ways. Of particular interest in terms of polyvocal narrative might be the works from his Selected Poems (Gaspereau Press) that use color to designate different voiced parts. Here’s a sample page.
Consider asking students to work with platforms that manage links in interactive non-linear narratives (think Choose Your Own Adventure) – there are a lot of these, including Inklewriter and Twine and Quest. You can generally link to things outside your “game” or story world, in addition to linking between your own pages.
You might also consider the Electronic Literature Organization as a resource. They have a page that addresses the question What is E-Lit? and use the broad definitional answer, “works with important literary aspects that take advantage of the capabilities and contexts provided by the stand-alone or networked computer.” They also collect exemplary works. Here’s the 2011 Collection (Vol. 2).
In terms of situating E-Lit in relation to traditions of narrative (especially experimental writing), Robert Coover is pretty wonderful. Here’s his full talk “A History of the Future of Narrative” (40 minute video), a keynote from the 2008 ELO conference.
* This is a version of the list of resources that Carrie and Kerry handed out at their digital brown bag talk on Sept. 19, 2014. If you want, you can click here to download the original handout as a .docx file. Feel free to adapt it for your own use.
Descriptions of the tools – http://helpx.adobe.com/photoshop/using/tools.html
“Official” video tutorial series – http://tv.adobe.com/show/learn-photoshop-cs6/
Lynda.com – login via My Pitt for access to a huge range of tutorials across all levels of experience.
Free Image Editing Software (Alternatives to Photoshop)
GIMP (desktop program) – http://www.gimp.org
Pixlr (online or offline editor) – http://www.pixlr.com
Paint.NET (for Windows; simpler interface than GIMP) – http://www.getpaint.net/
Worth noting: many of these generators require users to register; many exist as both free versions and premium versions that require users to pay a fee to access “advanced” features.
Making Accurate Charts based on Numeric Data
For quick, simple, accurate charts – a generator by Caleb Loffer – http://ceagon.com/tools/charts
For more complicated interface/more powerful data visualization – http://www.icharts.net/
Making Flowcharts (other simple infographics, too)
Thinking About Icons (and/or Metaphor and/or Branding)
The Noun Project – http://thenounproject.com/
Working with Color
Color scheme designer – http://www.paletton.com
Adobe Color CC (used to be Kuler), create schemes based on color theory principles and/or images – https://color.adobe.com
A simulator that lets you check what your images look like to someone who is colorblind – http://www.vischeck.com/
Working with Typography
Butterick’s Practical Typography – http://practicaltypography.com/
Finding (Free) Non-Standard Fonts
Working With Maps
For drawing on/adding information to maps – http://www.scribblemaps.com/create/
For devising cartographic color schemes (colorblind-safe mode) – http://colorbrewer2.org/
Stylized maps (of locations you select) via Stamen Design – http://maps.stamen.com/
Websites That Often Feature Infographics
Some Articles of Interest
A LONG list of relevant links broken down categorically –
A (very debatable) list of dos and don’ts with examples –
Books we might have mentioned to you
The Book of Trees: Visualizing Branches of Knowledge
Manuel Lima (Princeton Architectural Press, 2014)
The Best American Infographics
2013 – edited by Gareth Cook, intro by David Byrne (Mariner Books, first book in the series)
2014 – edited by Gareth Cook, intro by Nathan Silver (Harcourt, available October 14th)
The Where, The Why and the How: 75 Artists Illustrate Wondrous Mysteries of Science
edited by Jenny Volvovski, Julia Rothman, and Matt Lamothe (Chronicle Books, 2012)