The number one lesson I learned about Markov chains from this assignment (which also seems to be a common theme throughout this class) is that more source material is better! At first I tried to generate the chain possibilities using only character backstories I’ve written for Dungeons and Dragons campaigns. Unfortunately, this only amounted to about 10 or so pages of writing. I then added in a couple more stories I wrote for creative writing classes, mostly with themes revolving around escapism and death. I still wasn’t really satisfied with the resulting chains, so I included every essay that I wrote for my POH class, which was all about the apocalypse in literature, as well as an essay I wrote about religion for Ghosts, Gods, and Buddha.
The results were pretty amusing in my opinion. Like with the poem generator, I sat around just running the program for a while. My favorite from this time was probably “engaging in cannibalism a three semester course plan in which normal people resort to it.” and maybe “never be successful”
I wasn’t really sure how to put these sentences together though. Eventually I decided to experiment with the length of finalChain. I feel like the 200 words we did in the in class example was really long, and I found that I liked a shorter length. These shorter lines were quite poem like, so I wrote another poem. To make all these random sentences seem like they related to each other, I decided to see what would happen if I started from the same key word every single time. The results were far less heterogeneous than I expected, so now I have a poem about the apocalypse.
I really enjoyed creating the pattern for the soft toy because I got to return to drawing again. It was a lot of fun creating the character, a tree. Rather than just making a tree I decided to make it so that the roots are like the feet, the branches are arms and hands, and the canopy is hair.
One part that was difficult was transferring the drawing from my sketchbook to the paper used for patterns. Comparatively, tracing the pattern onto the fabric went well. Unfortunately, like the drawing exercises in class, I work relatively slowly and wasn’t able to finish cutting all the fabric in the time given.
I think that the idea of making these toys from recycled materials is very cool. This makes toys accessible to a much wider audience than before and that is hugely important. I think that it is also noble to be creating these toys with the aim of teaching kids about science. However, when I am just being told exactly how this toy relates to this scientific concept, I find it a little boring. I think it is better to just let people play with the toy and figure it out themselves.
For my midterm, I would like to generate a board game by using the rule sets of existing games and extrapolating from there. Right now I have pdfs for Stratego, Clue, Codenames, and Boss Monster. Ideally I’ll get two to three more different games, but I’m currently unsure of which I’d like to add. Using either regular expressions or some other type of search, I plan to take the different sections of the rules and separate them into lists for game setup, game objective, actions available on one’s turn, piece list, etc. I also want to have a list of separate lists for the ‘themed’ words in each game. In Codenames, for example, Spymaster is a themed word, or in Monopoly, Banker and properties are themed words.
Once I have all of my data sorted out, I will construct the rules section by section. Typical board games follow a structure of having a short About section which may also include how to win, a list of pieces, how to start playing the game, and the flow of game play. The lists I created earlier should roughly correspond to these sections. I want to try both using markov chains and randomly picking sentences from the lists to construct my rules and see which works best. After all the rules are created, I want to pick one source games and replace all the existing theme words (and maybe also some instances of the word ‘player) in the rules with theme words only from that game
I think it’s interesting to think about what is considered spam. In the article “How Bots Were Born From Spam” there is the obvious examples of chain messages and unsolicited emails. However, examples like the program that creates spam academic papers to check the standards of the peer review process have a much more nuanced purpose despite using the same techniques.
Advertising is sometimes also considered as a type of spam. In talking about how people have tried to filter spam and how spammers have tried to find workarounds, I was reminded of the rise of adblock and how sites have tried to subvert that. I think that many people dislike seeing popups telling the user to subscribe to their site’s newsletters as much as they dislike the spam popups of the late 90s/early 2000s. As a response sites have tried different monetization techniques such as soliciting donations and cryptocurrency mining so as not to drive away their users. I think that the responsibility of stopping the type of bots described in “The Twitter Bot That Sounds Just Like Me” should probably be with the company, otherwise users will simply move to or even create other platforms that are less susceptible to spam.
I really enjoyed this reading because I feel like it revealed a lot of possibilities for text as a medium. Like we discussed in class on Monday, it is easy to fall into the idea of the output being just a word document. Stuff like novels and screenplays certainly are art, but they are text art, not text-based art if that makes sense. The idea that text can be performance art is totally mind blowing and extremely cool. I think that Bakkila is kind of crazy, considering that he continued to post exactly like a bot without regards to sleep throughout the duration of the project, but it’s also the type of thing that I can imagine a hardcore dedicated ArtistTM to do ‘for his art.’ And that kind of passion is awesome.
I also think it’s rather interesting how the article discusses the element of deception that is so common in net art. I think that this was also a common theme with the computer generated poetry readings. Everyone wants to know whether or not the program can pass for human. After enjoying a nice piece by a robot or getting it successfully submitted to a literary journal, people may feel tricked once they learn that it was written by a computer. The horse ebooks presents a sort of an inversion of this, with a person trying to create content imitating a program. However, many people still felt deceived. I think the reason for this is because people like to analyze the background of artists and try to read into what about their personal life caused them to create that work. People also like to assume stuff about artists based on their work, from stuff as innocent as ‘oh I bet a man wrote this’ to ‘this artist must have some deep childhood trauma,’ and being tricked as to who actually created the content takes that away from them.
Starting this out was kind of difficult because I had forgotten quite how to write regular expressions. Once I got to my third pattern though, I had a very good idea how to derive the words I wanted to get, so I would say that this practice was very much appreciated! My first pattern searches for phrases that are in all capital letters, almost all of which are the titles of chapters. I use this as the beginning of each paragraph in the final story. The other patterns search for a variety of different types of clauses. I then wrote functions that combine the different clauses in different orders for varying sentence types.
The most difficult part about combining the different parts of the book together was sanitizing everything. Knowing which punctuation to keep, which to get rid of. Varying degrees of capitalization and where new commas belong. My final result is rather messy with some proper nouns capitalized and some not, and double spaces where I deleted something like quotation marks.
In the end, however, I think that some of the sentences that resulted are really beautiful. My favorite is the ending of the first paragraph “She would have given anything for a day with something scraping on rock.” I also enjoy the imagery of “Oh wondering when theyd become drunk trembled. Look at this perched sliding inexorably down the frozen sea.” But this is also literally my favorite book ever written, and I think anything with such a high quality source would come out pretty decent.
The first thing I noticed when going to website of this project was the long list of cities under the Coming Soon section. While the concept of Love Unknown is already interesting, I think that making them location specific really gives it a special character. I did the reading before looking at the website, and was immediately excited when I saw that it’s set in Los Angeles because that’s where I’m from. In fact Long Beach Blvd. is fairly close to where I live. It made me feel like I could imagine bits like this happening every day to the people around me. Moreover, I could be one of the people seen that someone felt too shy to approach, and I think that’s the coolest thing about this project. Anyone reading the volume from their city would probably recognize a lot of the places mentioned in the story and feel the same way that I did.
This tutorial was pretty fun to go through. The first half or so wasn’t too difficult because most of the special characters were ones that we covered in class. In that sense it was a nice review. It was also extremely helpful to see exactly which part of the sentence matched to the regex that I wrote. The stuff in the later half was pretty cool though, especially the ability to capture certain parts. One thing that confused me was whether or not this tutorial is using Python syntax or if everything it explained is generic to regular expressions in all languages.
The subject that stood out to me most in this week’s reading was Amerika’s discussion of whether or not it is possible to be avant garde within an established mode of art. Specifically, I really enjoyed the definition of Avant-Pop as “signaling the artist’s willingness to play with
but subvert from within.” This reminded me of something I’ve heard in school about various creative disciplines from writing to music to film. First you have to thoroughly understand the fundamentals and rules of the form then you can experiment and break those rules with purpose. I found this reminiscent of artists like Picasso, who had already established himself as an extremely talented artist in the conventions of the time before he started developing his own style. Even Acker started out this way, having studied literature and the classics in college before she really got started with her cool cut up punk work.
A counterpoint to that would be the Ornette Coleman quote that he samples: “I didn’t know you had to learn to play. . . . I thought you had to play to play, and I still think that.” However, I disagree with this quote, and I think that the point of remix and repurposing also goes against it. Even if you don’t have to receive a formalized education on ‘how to play’, the influence and inspiration that we’ve gathered from our lived experiences and consumption of the works of others ought to be considered a type of learning.
My program takes all of Shakespeare’s 154 sonnets and uses them to generate villanelles instead. The reason I chose to do this is because the villanelle is my favorite poetic structure. It is rather simple and repetitive, but can be evocative of an obsession/fixation of the subject of the poem. I think that rather suits Shakespeare, considering that he wrote over 100 sonnets devoted to the same person. Whether that means he is more fixated on the object of his desires or just on writing sonnets, I’m not sure. Regardless, I think that the villanelle’s suitability to dealing with obsession is appropriate for re-contextualizing Shakespeare.
Writing the actual program was not as difficult as I feared it would be. At first, I thought I would end up with over 100 lines of code like I did when making the text game, but surprisingly, I only have around 60. However, while I pretty much knew exactly what to do with the text game, I had to spend more time here puzzling over how exactly to accomplish what I wanted the program to do. In order to select a line, check if it rhymes, and pick a new one if it doesn’t, I ended up using a while loop. I am quite proud that I managed to use a while loop because I usually avoid them like the plague. In the past, pretty much every time that I’ve tried to use one, my program gets stuck in an infinite loop.