E-Literature: Exploring a lyric literary work for Oculus Rift – The future of Electronic Literature.

 

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As technology continues to advance, both online and offline, the way in which literary works can be produced and shared is transforming. We were firstly presented with the E-book, which did not only change the way the physical content of a literary work was presented, but how the user experienced that content (Staiger, 2012). The introduction of the electronic journal primarily for academic purposes was a huge step in increasing the accessibility of scholarly articles. Having previously delved into the world of Interactive Documentaries, the area of lyric literary works proved interesting.  Caitlin Fisher’s “Everyone at this party is dead” is a unique, individual work, which is one of the first literary works intended for Oculus Rift. For those without access to a VR headset, a browser edition is available, which adds to the universality of this work

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This work is unique, in that it is completely interactive, and this enables each user to have a different experience every time this lyric literary work is explored.  Like any other text or piece of literature, this work has a narrative. What makes this particular type of narrative unique, is that the user determines which parts of the story they unveil at any given time. The entire experience is user dependent. Navigation within the work is determined by the user, as well as what objects are clicked on.

 

Setting the scene fjjjor this work, the user finds themselves in an outdoor setting, clearly in the middle of some sort of celebration, this is represented by the sounds of wine glasses, conversation and laughing. It is not until you explore your surroundings further that the actual narrative comes to life. Upon clicking on ‘tear-shaped’ objects, the user is propelled into the life and death of those who attended that party. The narrative is of an autobiographical style, depending on where the user navigates in the world of the lyric literary work, a particular narrative about a character is heard. Through the interactivity and user involvement within this work, a level of empathy is felt for the narrator, who can presumed to be the one reflecting on those who have died.

As the user explores the landscape, various object can be collected along the way. Collecting these objects can be viewed as gathering a collection of memories. The more objects that can be collected, the more information is revealed about the lives and subsequently the death of the people who were once at this celebratory gathering.

There as an aspect of this work which comes across almost haunting, leaves you feeling on edge after the entire experience. For a lyric literary work to have this much of an impact on its users is remarkable. Experiencing this work through a VR headset, as it was originally intended for would further immerse the user in the story.

It is through works like these, that the extent to which digital technology is transforming the way in which literature can be presented and interpreted (Tabbi, 2010). Each user experiences a slightly weren’t version of events, depending on how they interact with the work. Being one of the first lyric literary works intended for Oculus rift, this work paves the way for further development in this field. This work can be regarded as a unique intersection of game mechanics and storytelling, without the need for a gaming console.

Fisher’s “Everyone at This Part Is Dead” can be found here https://projeqt.com/caitlin/cardamom/

 

Bibliography

Electronic Literature Directory (2016) Individual Work Everyone at the Party is Dead [online] Available at: http://directory.eliterature.org/individual-work/4765 (Accessed 12 December 2016)

Pianka, J. (2016) Literal Immersion: Narrative Game Design in VR. Entropy [online] Available at: http://entropymag.org/literal-immersion-narrative-game-design-in-vr/ (Accessed 12 December 2016)

Staiger, J. (2012) How E-books Are Used: A Literature Review of the E-book Studies Conducted from 2006 to 2011. Reference and User Services Association [online].51(4) Available at: https://journals.ala.org/rusq/article/view/3919/4393 (Accessed 12 December 2016)

Tabbi, J. (2010) Electronic Literature as World Literature; or,The Universality of Writing under Constraint.PoeticsToday[online].31(1),17-50.Available at: http://poeticstoday.dukejournals.org/content/31/1/17.full.pdf+html (Accessed 12 December 2016)

Our Nation’s Mental Health, Men And Our Digital Voice

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Upon opening the Facebook newsfeed, we are asked “What’s on your mind? Alternatively we can express an emotion or “feeling” in an instantaneous click. It is through social media, using our newfound digital voice, we are dissolving the stigma around our mental health. Mental health continues to be one of society’s most pressing issues (Utley, 2016).

For many the idea of speaking out about a topic that has been swept under the carpet for so many decades is daunting and for some, humiliating. Throughout the 19th and 20th century, those who were mentally unwell and could not “behave” or integrate well into normal society were commonly placed in mental asylums (Moran, 2009), where their behaviour could be contained, controlled and ultimately their mind contained to the four walls of a building.

Looking at our society now, we still have the same mental health issues to some extent. What is unique about the era we live in, is the role our digital presence plays in our day to day lives. It is our responsibility to harness the potential for online technologies for mental health promotion.  Through social media platforms, such as Twitter, campaigns exist, like the #IAmAReason hashtag, which took over Twitter amid the mental health outrage in April of this year. It was through this hashtag that people vented their anger and frustration at the TD’s who failed to turn up to the Dail for the Mental Health Debate that month, following cuts and failure to release the 35Million Euro to the HSE. It was through this hashtag that people showed they weren’t just another number, they were people who felt let down and vulnerable thanks to our nation’s mental health services. It was through this hashtag (merely a few characters squished together) that united so many people on a digital platform over an issue we are forced to take into our own hands. It was through this hashtag that someone in a depressive state or amid a panic attack, who has been turned away countless times by our health services, may have thought “wait, maybe I am actually a reason.”

 

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Men, a sex which are often overlooked when it comes to mental health. 510,000 men die from suicide globally each year, that equates to one every minute (The Movember Foundation). It is apparent that men are more hesitant to ask for assistance with their mental health than women. (The Movember Foundation).

“We’re alarmed by the increasing number of men who take their own lives around the world. We are working to ensure all men and boys look after their mental health and are comfortable to reach out to others for support when they’re struggling.” — Therese Fitzpatrick, Global Mental Health Director

Recently there has been a popular campaign targeted at men’s mental health and suicide prevention. The campaign uses the #itsoktotalk, men from all over the country have been uploading selfies on social media sites to spread the awareness of suicide among young males. The movement has gone viral and encourages young men to talk to one another about their problems, and their mental health. Part of the campaign also encourages those involved to tag friends to take part, which reignites this whole idea of using our digital voice to motivate, support and share with others.

Of course this is only scratching the surface. Sufferers need more than a hashtag to get them through this week, the next few days, even just tomorrow. With poor mental health, there is no respite for many, the funding set aside for the amount of people suffering is simply inadequate. Getting people to talk is the first step, using social media to promote this idea is looking more favourable each and every day. Taking these topics into our own hands and onto these digital platforms is proving a lot more beneficial than detrimental. Today we are uniquely equipped to make a huge impact with our digital voices. If a trending social media campaign can motivate even one person to admit they’re in fact not okay, that’s taking a step in the right direction.

 

Bibliography

Moran, J. (2009), History of Madness and Mental Illness: A Short History of Care and Treatment in Canada, Available at: http://historyofmadness.ca/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=80

Utley, T. (2016), The Rise Of Digital Technology In Mental Health, Available at: http://www.forbes.com/sites/toriutley/2016/05/24/the-rise-of-cognitive-technology-in-mental-health/#6205e03158fb

Walton, A. (2016), The Brave Voices Who Are Helping Dissolve The Stigma Around Mental Health, Available at: http://www.forbes.com/sites/alicegwalton/2016/04/27/the-brave-voices-who-are-helping-dissolve-the-stigma-around-mental-health/#46e2d5af798a

https://ie.movember.com/programs/mental-health

 

Reviewing a digital tool: CiteULike http://www.citeulike.org/

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Locating information for academic purposes is already challenging, sorting the information found is another common struggle among students and academics. Availing of the internet and online search engines for sources has become increasingly popular as supported by Reiger’s (2009) study. Collecting and sorting references can be a time consuming process, CiteULike is a digital tool that helps make this process more efficient. CiteULike allows the user to store, organise and share the scholarly papers they have sourced. Citation details are extracted automatically from the users’ personal library, where the selected papers are stored. CiteULike works from within the users’ web browser, adding to the accessibility of this tool. For the purpose of this review, CiteULike will be evaluated under a set of criteria;

Sustainability: How long has the tool been available for? Is the tool widely used? Can data be exported?

Efficiency: How easy is this tool to navigate? Does the tool supply adequate information for new users? Does this tool perform as it claims to?

Contribution to Knowledge: Does this tool contribute to the efficiency of the users’ research process?  Can data collected be shared with others?

Firstly, the tool will be evaluated in terms of its sustainability. CiteULike has been available as a free web service since 2004. As of 2007, there were 33,000 registered users, this number was reported to be growing at 100 users per day (Emamy & Cameron,2007). CiteUlike has accumulated a large community of users and is continuing to grow. The unique combination of a bibliographic management tool and a social bookmarking service is what makes CiteUlike so appealing. There are currently over 8 Million articles stored via CiteULike , compared to over 2 Million in 2009 (http://www.citeulike.org/).

CiteULike users and their selected articles are not confined to their web browser, the users’ personal library can be exported to their computer in various formats (ie. PDF,RTF,Plaintext). Since CiteULike is an open source tool, the content available depends on the amount of active users and the type of papers they are storing. CiteULike is evidently a very sustainable, viable tool that promotes the sharing of knowledge and has a large community of users.

Secondly, CiteULike will be evaluated in terms of its efficiency. The basic navigation and functionality of the tool is simple, step by step assistance is offered for new users. Scholarly papers can be stored instantly once the CiteULike browser button is installed. Users can organise their papers in their own personal library, which can be organised by user generated tags. These tags enable users to navigate libraries and discover new papers that have mutual tags. Users also have the option to prioritise papers of superior importance, adding to the efficiency of this tool. CiteULike also offers an alphabetical listing of journals as an alternative for users who decide not to locate their own articles.

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Another addition, is the subject specific pages where the latest papers are listed according to the subject they are classified under. This enables the user to explore papers under a specified category in an efficient, easily accessible way. “Citegist” displays the most popular articles in the past seven days within CiteULike. In this way, it is easy for a user to uncover new, popular articles that may be of relevance. CiteULike is unquestionably a highly efficient tool for collecting, storing and sharing scholarly papers.

Finally, CiteULike will be evaluated in terms of its contribution to knowledge. This particular tool facilitates the sharing and consumption of academic literature (Emamy & Cameron, 2007). A function entitled “neighbours” is incorporated in CiteULike, users who have bookmarked the same articles are shown here, connections can be made between users. Researchers in similar fields can build up professional networks, thus promoting knowledge sharing.

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Since every users’ bibliographic database is web based, users can browse each other’s collections. Of course this is not favourable for every individual, but gives users the opportunity to share and consume new academic information. The use of user generated tags also contributes to CiteULike’s contribution to knowledge. Users can explore academic papers under tags that interest them, which enables them to uncover articles others have collected.

In terms of CiteULike’s contribution to the efficiency of one’s research process, it succeeds in making the collecting and sorting of sources an easy task. It is an added bonus that the collections of others can be viewed. Not only does CiteULike act as a social bookmarking service, it also efficiently extracts the relevant metadata required for the bibliographic database (Emamy & Cameron, 2007). This contributes to the efficiency of the research process, sources can be cited almost effortlessly.

To present all perspectives fairly, the limitations of CiteULike must also be considered. Since CiteULike is an open source, their success is dependent on input from their users. CiteULike also has visible competition, Zotero being one of them. It is notable that it is mainly only articles available to store in the users’ personal library (Suhrstedt, 2009). It would be beneficial for CiteULike to be compatible with other forms of sources such as audio and video.

To conclude, CiteULike encompasses much more than just a bibliographic management service. It allows for professional networks to be built among users who share similar academic interests. CiteULike’s simple functionality and accessibility makes it an appealing outlet for those conducting academic research. Having evaluated this tool under the set of criteria (outlined above) it is evidently a beneficial digital tool that could be used universally.

Bibliography

-Emamy, K. and Cameron, R. (2007) Citeulike: A Researcher’s Social Bookmarking Service. Available at: http://www.ariadne.ac.uk/issue51/emamy-cameron [Accessed 9 February 2016]

-Rieger, O.Y. (2009) ‘Search engine behaviour of students and faculty: User perceptions and implications for future research’, First Monday, 14 (12), pp.1-5. Available at http://firstmonday.org/article/view/2716/2385 [Accessed 8 February 2016]

-Suhrstedt, L. (2009) Citeulike. Available at: https://digitalresearchtools.pbworks.com/w/page/17801649/citeulike [Accessed 9 February 2016]

http://www.citeulike.org/ [Accessed 9 February 2016]

 

 

 

Interactive technology – Storytelling in the digital age

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The introduction of new digital tools has allowed for storytelling to be a more immersive experience; it allows the audience to have a higher level of engagement. The idea of storytelling has exsisted for generations. In recent years the way in which literature is represented has progressed. The basic structure of a story; a plot, a narrative, characterisation, has not changed. The platforms they are shared on have. The combination of the art of storytelling with multimedia such as video, audio and graphics has become more popular in the digital age (Alderman, 2013)

Digital literature is often represented through video games, interactive documentaries and through some social media platforms. The combination of storytelling and the digital age has added another dimension to literature. Interactive technology allows for the audience to have an increased level of emotional engagement. Each user will have a different experience because of this interactivity, improving audience engagement. Interactive technology has the ability to represent choice, allowing the audience to influence the story. The interplay between creativity and technology can be seen in certain video games. Games or digital media that contain a storytelling component can be useful for decision making and problem solving. Digital storytelling allows for the development of critical thought.

Interactive documentaries such as Bear71 prove to be hugely immersive and engaging. The user is directly involved in the telling of the story. Even though the same narrative and soundtrack was heard by each user, each user’s experience was different because of the interactive nature of Bear71 .This allowed the documentary to be more engaging than a traditional documentary. This interactivity enables the audience to have a more immersive experience.bear.jpg

Interactive technology could help optimize children’s potential in a learning environment. Fun, interactive tools help children retain more information thus optimizing their learning opportunity (N/A,2012). Children get distracted easily, interactive technology could help children remain attentive. Promoting technology to children is sometimes frowned upon by older generations, however the children growing up in this digital age will be expected to be accustomed to the technological era. It is inevitable that interactive technology will be utilised in learning and development environments.

Television was once just an electronic box people sat in front of. Today, interactive technology has enabled the interactivity between the user and their device (such as a television). This interactivity allows for a more immersive experience, allowing more information to be shared and collected. Take the Wii console as an example, a highly popular device for all age groups. The user’s movements/actions are broadcasted onto the television screen. There are various fitness, roleplay, story and educational Wii games. They’re all of an interactive nature, the user plays a significant role in the telling of the story or of the completion of tasks.

Interactive technology is developing at an unprecedented level and will continue to develop as the digital age progresses. Stories that are represented digitally and allow interaction enable the user to have a more immersive experience. The possibilities for interactive technology ranges from education to advertising.

 

Bibliography

Alderman, N. (2013) How interactive technology is transforming storytelling, url: http://www.theguardian.com/culture-professionals-network/culture-professionals-blog/2013/jul/12/interactive-technology-transform-storytelling-fiction Accessed on the 3rd of December 2015

De Leeuw, I. (2011), The 6 Most Innovative Interactive Web Documentaries, url: http://thecreatorsproject.vice.com/blog/the-6-most-innovative-interactive-web-documentaries Accessed on the 4th of December 2015

N/A.(2012) Technology and Interactive Media as Tools in Early Childhood Programs Serving Children from Birth through Age 8,url: http://www.naeyc.org/files/naeyc/file/positions/PS_technology_WEB2.pdf  Accessed on the 3rd of December 2015

 

 

Emoticons and our emotions

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Over the years there have been many abbreviations within the English language, “for example” to “eg”,” post scriptum” to “PS” and of course you have the introduction of text talk abbreviations, don’t feel like typing see you soon,”cya” should suffice. In the digital age we live in we are constantly looking for short cuts to our exsisting short cuts. We want everything at the tip of our fingertips, so the idea of little icons to express our emotions is very appealing .The first emoticon (which represented facial expressions using various keys on a keyboard) was said to have been used in 1982 but since then advancements have been made and Emojis (a small digital icon) were introduced. Emojis are universal and can be understood by all languages. Even Hermann Melville’s classic, Moby Dick has been translated into an emoji version entitled Emoji Dick (Robb,2014).

I think I would be an occasional emoji/emoticon user, I do feel as if they have added another dimension to the written word. I mainly use them to express an emotion, happiness, excitement, anticipation, fear, everything is covered. Emojis are also integrated into the keyboards on iPhones, which is nearly suggesting all your texts or interactions should include these friendly digital icons. It is then made even easier for the user by having your recently used emojis pop up (some of mine include, the laughing crying face, the smug smirking face, the salsa dancer and the unamused face).So, my phone is telling me these are the top emotions that I have shared with people (or have sent to myself), although in person I was not nearly half as expressive. Take the crying laughing face for example, I use this around five times a day, and I am probably not “crying laughing”, at most, I might have sniggered.

It got me thinking, if over-exaggerating our emotions could affect our interactions and how we express and interpret emotion in real life, how serious should a winking face be taken ;)? Why is there three variations of the tongue face, a winking one, a closed eye one and an open eye one, should I be offended if I receive the closed eye version? I am confused, this would be a perfect opportunity to use the ‘speak-no-evil’ monkey emoji, but maybe someone else would use the ‘see-no-evil’ monkey. Do we feel, perhaps a bit disappointed talking to someone in person who is much more flamboyant and exciting using emoticons/emojis (are we setting people’s level of emotional engagement too high?). Having read an article in relation to emojis and our emotions, I found it interesting when they made a point about the gender divide in relation to emoji usage, based on the ideology that females are more emotional, they tend to use more emoticons(Robb,2014).

There is also the fear that we may not value physical emotion as much as we would have, could this hinder our ability to develop psychologically by not being able to express our emotions properly in real life. Since we are living in a constant virtual reality, it is not that absurd to think of these possibilities in relation to emoticons/emojis and their usage. Since we seem to be throwing happy, sad, angry, confused, crying, frightened icons around, there may come a time when we fail to recognise real emotion if it is not expressed digitally. Of course, these are all possibilities, I would be very interested in researching further into this idea.

Niamh x

Bibliography

Bartlett, Q. (N/A), Emoticons, a Return to “Hieroglyphics”?, url: http://revelfoundry.com/emoticons-a-return-to-hieroglyphics/ Accessed on the 26th of October 2015

Marsden, R. (2013), More than words: Are ’emoji’ dumbing us down or enriching our communications?, url: http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/features/more-than-words-are-emoji-dumbing-us-down-or-enriching-our-communications-8610767.html Accessed on the 26th of October 2015

Robb, A. (2014), How Using Emoji Makes Us Less Emotional, url: http://www.newrepublic.com/article/118562/emoticons-effect-way-we-communicate-linguists-study-effects Accessed on the 26th of October 2015

Seiter, C. (2015), The psychology of emojis, url: http://thenextweb.com/insider/2015/06/23/the-psychology-of-emojis/ Accessed on the 26th of October 2015

Picture: http://getemoji.com/ Accessed on the 26th of October 2015