[a novel embedded in a map at We Tell Stories]

Aptly named We Tell Stories, here we have a project interested in digital writing, in this case the ways in which we can approach the idea of writing/storytelling/literature using the internet. Screenshot above from an online short novel called The 21 Steps, in which we view a googlemap which contains various nodes, each of which tells us part of the tale— we begin at a particular location, reading the first few sentences and then are led on a detective story through London and in and around the UK, viewing the action from above, as it were. In fact, as it is. Now this is a good place to start: although the story is entirely linear and un-interactive except for the necessary clicks of the mouse, the possibilities it suggest are damn exciting. For example, perhaps having a not entirely linear detective tale on a map, but instead one where you, the reader, actually decide where to look for the story yourself. So then:

An interactive, virtual Choose-Your-Own-Adventure novel in which YOU map out your journey figuratively and also quite literally on a journey round the globe.

[The Cave of Time!]

We Tell Stories sometimes gives us somewhat interesting digital renderings of classics (in this case, our googlemap adventure is a reworking of The 39 Steps). As in this case, they could all be more exciting. A major part of the attraction toward digital and web-based literature is the idea of reader interaction and the We Tell Stories stories do tend to play it safe. My inclination would be to suggest something more fractured (an example of which I outlined above as an alternative way to use mapping, to really make the reader the detective), something far less like traditional reading! When dwelling on such issues, I am reminded of David Foster Wallace’s words:

There’s a way, it seems to me, that reality’s fractured right now, at least the reality that I live in. And the difficulty about writing… writing about that reality is that text is very linear and it’s very unified, and… I, anyway, am constantly on the lookout for ways to fracture the text that aren’t totally disorienting—

Web-based literature is one way. Or probably many ways. It’s still a bub.


[A simple pipe i built: news items published on both the new york times and guardian website are filtered to give me all items referencing Barack Obama]

An informational mash-up,  an instant cartography of your interests flung around the ethernet as through plumbing and/or ancient aqueducts, really simple syndication (aka acronymically rss) and other feeds trail-blazing and filtered according to each and every one of your transmedial needs. MAP OUT YOUR MEDIA…—

Self-described as “an interactive feed aggregator and manipulator”, YahooPipes allows you to construct your very own internet feeds by  patching together any # of various modules (the boxes in the diagram above which contain feeds, filters etc…) with pipes in any fashion you want. If you purely want to collate all your national newspapers and view the stories concerning an election, this is simple. Hardcore pipers may enjoy filtering blogs and podcasts to find information about a certain region of Peru (for example?) using geographical data search engines provided by Yahoo here. Not only this, but you can view your pipe output in an interactive map:

[YahooPipes combined w/ GoogleMashUpEditor to represent all feeds geographically; see here]

What a wonderful conceptual refraction of Moog’s original idea for the modular synthesiser, which could create produce a then obscene number of sounds due to its “patching” nature: it consisted of separate modules connected by wires, which could be connected in multifarious fashions:

[Man meets Moog at digitalmedia]

This idea of “patching” has infiltrated many levels of the creative process, most notably that of electronic music. A vast amounts of electronic music software is based around this idea. One only needs look as far as Miller Puckette’s Pure Data and Max/MSP:

[a pure data patch, courtesy of trac]

An example which is probably more suitable for those with less interests in code is Isadora, a piece of software intended for artists whereby one can have interactive control over all forms of digital media, e.g. moving one’s arm up and down to trigger different audio-visual effects. Connecting the patches in a different configuration could change the ways in which bodily movements effect the environment.

Of course, anything that can be done with Isadora can also be achieved in Pure Data. I just recently wrote a patch in Pure Data which allows anybody to sing into a toy duck in order to mix videos. I probably should post that soon…

[A maxpatch from TransAtLab]

Where were we?! This patch-based phenomenon rearing its head in the form of YahooPipes and the ability build online maps-of-sorts signifying the movement of the media YOU want to read around your internet. The next step is finding an intelligent way to make this truly interactive– how about the ability to “play” websites like musical instruments as demonstrated here:

[Finally found a use for the NY Times:a chap using the monome, an open source controller, to play html data of the nytimes website for real! see lily]

Combine such fantastic conceptual arrangements with YahooPipes and suddenly you are able to construct your own cacophony of cartography, your very own subterranean-representation-via-none-other-than-the-apt-metaphor-of-plumbing, maps and sounds and blistering html data, code transferred sonically and all this, all of this, mind you, to tell you that Barack Obama is ahead in the polls.

[Moog and machines from eer-music]

[patching a human body to a —– from Media Theory etc…]