CTIN 532 Project Goals, Logan Ver Hoef

These are the goals which are at the core of what I want to accomplish in this class.  I am comfortable making any sort of experience as long as these remain intact.  Without further comment or embellishment:

  • • To design a world that feels detailed, natural, lived-in, and as if  it has a rich story behind it;
  • • To create a world with a compelling environmental narrative that players uncover and piece together on their own.

On Designing TweetWorld

THE ATLAS (This is part one. Part two includes interactive section.)

If you had told me 2 years ago that I’d one day watch governments fall 140 characters at a time, I’d have called you crazy. Is that really what happened? Or is Twitter just a part of a larger paradigmatic shift, taking hold in younger generations. I do not question its truth claim: it does not matter. The idea behind building a 3D immersive world of Twitter data is to offer the general public an opportunity to re-imagine their relationship with technology. The goal of the game is to find the original tweet. It’s a game of exploration.

Through a process of cultural analytics, this 3D Unity game is designed to DEFAMILIARIZE its user from what it thinks the culture of Twitter, or the culture of the Middle East, or the culture of Arab activism, revolution, and social networking might be all about.

Here are a couple of important footnotes on the art of “defamiliarization:”

P. B. Shelley in his, “Defence of Poetry” (1821), and of several modern, Russian formalist critics, made the claim it is a distinctive feature of literature, especially poetry, that it tears away what Shelley called the ‘veil of familiarity’ from the world, making us look at it afresh. 1. “A Defence of Poetry” by P.B. Shelley.

.”..it is necessary to make it strange, or defamiliarize it, in order to open its design space. Critical approaches to technology design are of both practical and social importance in the home. Home appliances are loaded with cultural associations such as the gendered division of domestic labor that are easy to overlook. Further, homes are not the same everywhere—even within a country. Peoples’ aspirations and desires differ greatly across and between cultures. The target of western domestic technology design is often not the user, but the consumer. Web refrigerators that create shopping lists, garbage cans that let advertisers know what is thrown away, cabinets that monitor their contents and order more when supplies are low are central to current images of the wireless, digital home of the future. Drawing from our research in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Asia, we provide three different narratives of defamiliarization. A historical reading of American kitchens provides a lens with which to scrutinize new technologies of domesticity, an ethnographic account of an extended social unit in England problematizes taken-for-granted domestic technologies, and a comparative ethnography of the role of information and communication technologies in the daily lives of urban Asia’s middle classes reveals the ways in which new technologies can be captured and domesticated in unexpected ways. In the final section of the article, we build on these moments of defamiliarization to suggest a broad set of challenges and strategies for design in the home. 2. From “Making by Making Strange: Defamiliarization and the Design of Domestic Technologies” By GENEVIEVE BELL, Intel Research; MARK BLYTHE, University of York, and PHOEBE SENGERS, Cornell University.

Accordingly, every design choice along the way has been a choice to defamiliarize the player. If I were to ask a sample of 100 people who live in any major city in the world about Twitter, many would at least know about it and might provide vague, ephemeral adjectives to describe what they imagine Twitter to be and how people interact with it. Perhaps a black, outer space –like, future-fantasy aesthetic would predominate the scene.

And so, in an attempt, to ‘lift the veil of familiarity’ around Twitter – I built a space that had organic things like trees and a blue sky. The choice to make the ground white seemed odd -– and gave a sense of lightness on a topic that doesn’t sound so light -– Middle East Revolutions. And the music too was chosen to make you think, “huh, that’s not what I was expecting.” What was the user expecting? And why did the user come with such expectations?

Likewise, the choice to have a human 3rd person player was a choice to make the unreal world of Twitter seem real – and give it a strong human perspective….grounded. The elevation of the ground represent the number of tweets and retweeting so that the player gets a sense of immersion in the tweets themselves – and the maneuverability was meant to be challenging.

Aesthetically, it is an attempt to transform a 2D data visualization into a 3D immersive environment. My challenge here was to make a live streaming 3D data visualization. Here is the original 2D image:

The green waterfalls are Arabic tweets, the blue waterfalls are English tweets, and the red ones are French tweets. The more elevated the terrain the more retweeting occurred. Your mission is to find the original tweet in each language. The winners get access to the data.

The data itself will appear in CSV downloadable links. You will be able to download four distinct CSV files for each of the hashtags you find. The four CSV files will include (1) our statistics on the data by day; (2) our statistics on the data by hour; (3) our statistics on the data by minute; (4) the original, raw tweet data. This will appear in a database structure of rows and columns for the player to use in any imaginative way.


Early Reaction/Diffusion Code

This shows an early version of my Wu Xing-inspired cellular automata, taking the form of a Reaction-Diffusion model.  This isn’t as commented and a little more obscure than the DLA code, but you should be able to copy/paste the code into processing and get a simple reaction/diffusion cellular automata in Processing: