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)

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Getting Intimate With Text – Voyant Tools

 

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As the digital age progresses, the way in which we can interpret and present data is transforming. With the help of digital tools and new technologies, information can be digitally visualised in order to improve its aesthetic appeal, as well as its clarity. Text data can be considered as one dimensional and is the simplest method of presenting data. It can be time consuming and impractical to analyse rows of text data. Humans are visual creatures, processing information based on what we see (McCue, 2013). Traditional textual formats of communicating information are changing into a more appealing, clear format of data visualisation.

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Voyant Tools, is a web-based project which offers its users a free reading and analysis environment for digital texts. Being an open source project, Voyant Tools is available to anyone who wishes to use it, and it accommodates a number of different languages. There are a number of different tool options that are accessible to users on Voyant 2.0. I decided to visualise the 1916 Proclamation of the Irish Republic. The reason behind choosing this piece of digital text, was because of the Proclamation’s   significance this year. Ireland commemorated the 100th year anniversary of the 1916 Easter rising.

Using Voyant 2.0, the piece of text could be visualised in many different formats. I firstly viewed the piece of text using the Cirrus option, which is a word cloud that displays the frequency of terms that appear in a piece of digital text.  Terms which occur more frequently appear larger on the word cloud. There is also a summary tool which accompanies the cirrus word cloud. This gives the user exact information on how frequent particular terms appear in their text. The words ‘Irish’, ‘people’ and ’government’ were some of the most frequent terms, apart from words such as ‘The’ and ‘of’, which have no noticeable significance to the matter of the text. For this reason, it is of importance that the user understands their text and its content. While the Cirrus tool visualises the frequency of terms, the user’s understanding of the text’s content is important when analysing their visualisation. One could conclude that since the words ‘Irish’ and ‘people’ were used so frequently, the republic was declaring independence from the United Kingdom for the benefit of the Irish people. Since the majority of Irish people wanted a republic, independent of the United Kingdom, the frequency of these terms might reflect the desires of the Irish people.

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Visualising the 1916 Proclamation using the Cirrus tool.

Secondly, the digital text was visualised using the Trends option on Voyant 2.0. This particular option visualises the document in a graph format. The relative frequencies within the piece of text are displayed using a line graph. Each term found within the text is assigned a colour, which then represents that term on the line graph. This tool breaks the document into segments, graphing the frequencies of words in each segment. There is also a key above the graph, showing what word belongs to what colour, I found this to be extremely helpful. The Trends option also allows users to visualise a number of texts on a single graph. This would be beneficial for data comparison purposes. The graph proved to be aesthetically pleasing and could easily be integrated into a project or study.  From visualising the proclamation in a graph format, it can be concluded that the term ‘government’ is of significance within the document. According to the graph, the term ‘government’ was almost consistently frequent within each segment of the text. Since, the terms ‘people’ and ‘right’ are most frequent together in segment 4, it can be concluded that these terms share a relationship. Perhaps an observation that could be made, is that the ‘people’ of Ireland have the ‘right’ to a republic.

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Visualising the Proclamation using the Trends tool.

 

The ‘Links’ tool, displays a network graph of higher frequency terms within the text and words that appear to be related or in proximity to these key words. Key words appear green in colour, while words that are presumed to be linked to these key words appear blue in colour. This tool proves to be very visually pleasing and puts the content of the text into perspective, through linking frequent terms in the text with terms in their proximity. The use of colour also enhances the attraction of this particular tool. It successfully creates a clear and concise visualisation. For example, from viewing my document using the links tool, the term Irish has been linked with, republic, generation, citizen and people. The links made here, present an accurate representation of the content within the document. The links tool could most definitely be utilised in both an academic and business environment. One of the reasons people  visualise numeric or text data is to compare and contrast, exposing the links between information within the data. This tool successfully links terms within my text document, in a simple, clear, coherent manner.

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Visualising the 1916 Proclamation using the Links tool.

 

The TermsRadio tool on Voyant 2.0, uses a graph format to display word occurrence over a period of time within a piece of text. The document is split into segments, the word occurrence within each segment is represented using colours and words themselves. Having analysed my piece of text using the TermsRadio tool, it can be noted that the terms ‘republic’ and ‘arms’ occur the most in segment three of the text, while the term ‘Irish’ occurs almost equally in all segments.The relationship between the terms ‘republic’ and ‘arms’ suggests that even though Ireland did not have the arms to sustain a permanent, National government, a temporary provisional government would suffice. This provisional government would administer the civil and military affairs of the Republic, until they had the appropriate arms to establish a permanent government for the Republic.  One could make various observations from using the TermsRadio tool and apply these back to the context of their data. This tool would be beneficial to those who wish to compare and contrast data within a single document.

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Visualising the 1916 Proclamation using the TermsRadio tool.

 

The Stream Graph is also another tool which visualises data using a graph format. While the other graph formats had used lines to represent the data, this particular one uses shapes accompanied by colour. There is a key available to the user, where the colour which represents each term is shown. Compared to the other graphs, I found this graph to be considerably more difficult to interpret. It appears that the larger the shape, the more frequent a term is. Similarly to the TermsRadio tool, the graph breaks the document into segments. Therefore the shapes on the graph represent the dominance of certain terms within particular segments. Visualising my document through using the Stream Graph was not as clear and concise as the other graphs. Line graphs enable for a more concise, clear interpretation to be made by the user. From analysing this graph, it is clear there are relationships between the terms ‘Irish ‘ and ‘people’. This relationship is reflected by the combination of orange and blue within the shape. Similarly, the terms ‘republic’ and ‘right’ are visualised together, once again, reflecting the content of the proclamation.

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Visualising the 1916 Proclamation using the Stream Graph.

 

Having experimented with Voyant tools, it is evidently a beneficial, innovative resource that promotes the transformation of reading and interpreting text data in a digital environment.  Voyant’s simple approach to visualising text data is what makes it appealing to the everyday user. In terms of what the visualisation process has added to my understanding of the content of the text, I was able to see links and relationships between certain terms more efficiently. The frequency of terms also indicated to me what factors were most important to those proclaiming Ireland’s independence from the United Kingdom. To conclude, the entire visualisation process enabled me to understand the content of my document more effectively. It enabled me to compare and contrast terms within the text efficiently.

Bibliography.

McCue,T. (2013) Why Infographics Rule. Available at: http://www.forbes.com/sites/tjmccue/2013/01/08/what-is-an-infographic-and-ways-to-make-it-go-viral/#52afba6a353c [Accessed 1 April 2016]

 

OpenStreetMap

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Founded in 2004 by Steve Coast (Sterling, 2014), OpenStreetMap (OSM) uses User Generated Content (UGC) to compile its visual data. Since OSM is an open data source, any individual or company can access and add to the data within OSM. Any information added becomes immediately accessible to OSM users. OSM currently has an Open Database License (McDonough, 2013), which means that OSM along with all its data can be shared and used once all the data within OSM is made available to all OSM users. In this way it differs to outlets such as Google Maps and Google Map Maker, which is a closed system. Any information submitted becomes the property of Google (McDonough, 2013). OSM is ultimately a community-engaged project to collect geographical data for public use.

Humanitarian OpenStreetMap tasking is a collaborative mapping tool. Its objective is to map areas that are not mapped sufficiently. Through the use of the OSM task manager, important humanitarian initiatives can be met. I participated in mapping the Morrumbala District in Mozambique as part of the Africa Indoor Residual Spraying Campaign. The goal of this particular humanitarian initiative is to help indoor residual spraying programs in the area, which will help control and ultimately stop the spread of Malaria. The mapping of the Morrumbala District in Mozambique will help Peace Corps Volunteers to complete Field Papers to determine where to spray in the district.

 

 

 

The OSM task manager provided useful information with regard to mapping the area. I was evidently unfamiliar with the landscape and structural layout of the area. The OSM task manager provided me with a tracing guide, which I reviewed. I found this guide to be extremely helpful with regards to recognising houses and roads in the Morrumbala District.  This particular task focused on mapping a complete transportation network, as well as identifying buildings and waterways.

I also participated in mapping the Togo area in West Africa. The aim of this mapping initiative is to help contain the Meningitis outbreak. In order for the Togolese Red Cross and the government to contain and control the outbreak, mapping of roads, buildings and residential areas is a priority. Comparing this experience to mapping the Morrumbala district, I found the Togo area to be more straightforward to map with regards to noticing structural and geographical features. However, the Togo mapping task did not supply a tracing guide, the Morrumbala district task did supply this as well as alternative information.

 

 

 

Mapping an unfamiliar area proved difficult, I could only map on an indefinite basis. I could not be entirely sure if a road was secondary, residential or tertiary. The only guideline I could follow were the ones provided. Comparing the experience of mapping an unfamiliar area versus a very familiar area was interesting. Mapping through the task manager proved to be more stimulating and there were definite objectives for each task. The user could also see the percentage of progress made on each task. This reinforced the idea of OSM being a community engaged project. The task manager made it possible to view the contributions other users had made. Users can also validate and leave comments on other user’s work. I validated mapping by a user in the Vanua Levu area, which requires mapping after the Winston storm. Users were encouraged to map roads and buildings that had not already been mapped.

With regards to the additional features of OSM, a “User Diaries” feature is easily accessible to all OSM users. Users can contribute to these diaries by sharing their personal experiences using OSM as well as viewing other user’s comments. OSM also offers a feature called “GPS Traces”. This particular feature allows users to upload their recorded GPS traces directly to OSM. The collected data from the GPS traces are displayed as a background of dots and lines. These can help the user recognise map features while editing which adds to the functionality of OSM. These two additional features add to the interactive nature of OSM and reinforces the idea of OSM being a community engaged project. Not only is the site’s data compiled from user generated content, but users can interact and work collectively on an online platform.

To present all perspectives fairly, the limitations of OSM must also be considered. Since anyone, anywhere can contribute to OSM, the accuracy and reliability of the data inputted can be questioned. From my own personal experience with OSM and being an unexperienced mapper, attention to detail was required to ensure the mapping was as accurate as possible. It is apparent however, that OSM’s validation function can help counter this problem, work can be reviewed and validated accordingly.

Ultimately, OSM is a largescale crowdsourced map and its data is constantly evolving due to its thousands of contributors. Their contributors vary from GIS (Geographic Information Systems) professionals and engineers to enthusiast mappers and casual cartographers. Having experimented with OSM and its functionalities, it is evidently a resourceful, interactive digital tool that encourages the use of digital tools to meet important humanitarian initiatives. OSM could definitely be used for academic purposes. Its efficiency and simple functionality makes it a very appealing tool which could ultimately be adapted to research projects or portfolios. For example, research in relation to geographical space and its influence on cultural development and human behaviour would make use of a tool such as OSM. To conclude, OSM is a unique digital tool and promotes community engaged projects on a digital platform.

Bibliography

McDonough, M. (2013) Google Map Maker vs. OpenStreetMap: Which mapping service rules them all? Available at: http://www.digitaltrends.com/computing/google-map-maker-vs-openstreetmap-id-editor/ [Accessed 1 March 2016]

Sterling, G. (2014) Founder: OpenStreetMap Already As Good Or Better Than Google Maps. Available at: http://searchengineland.com/founder-openstreetmap-good-better-google-maps-already-192089 [Accessed 1 March 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