The Best Sentence of the Day

This blog is a cut-up of a dissertation in progress. Each day, I will post my favorite sentence that I have newly scribed. Everything out of context, but suggestive. I hope.

My Photo
Name:
Location: San Francisco, CA

I'm a game designer, a games researcher, and a future forecaster. I make games that give a damn. I study how games change lives. I spend a lot of my time figuring out how the games we play today shape our real-world future. And so I'm trying to make sure that a game developer wins a Nobel Prize by the year 2032. Learn more here in my bio or get my contact information on my contact page.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Best Sentence #79

But how, in the medium of email, might one investigate white space?

P.S. I know the point of this blog is "out of context", but with so many first-time visitors and new readers, I thought a little context might be fun. So click on the comments for the full passage from which this sentence was snipped.

25 Comments:

Blogger Jane said...

Oh, in case you're wondering, here's the context...

From chapter 5 of the dissetation:

The email appeared exactly as the text does below, with the same amount and placement of white space:

Once upon a time there was a young man who dreamed of the sea. The waves, he thought . . . the waves beat like the world’s heart, crashing and hissing against the shore.

Crash and hiss.
Crash and hiss.

He loved the sound of the swell as it slapped and gasped against the hull of his boat.
Slap and gasp.
Slap and gasp.

And he was thinking about the rocking ocean, gentle as a mother’s arms, at the very moment he was murdered.
A mother’s arms.
A mother’s arms.

Just a few puzzles into the game, players have already started to learn that the everyday media they encounter may be hiding interactive affordances. But what technique does this e-mailed poem suggest? In confronting a mysterious poem, a player might think first of modes of literary analysis. The visual “white space” or “blank space” of a poem, for instance, is often said to convey as much as the carefully arranged words. In this particular poem, there is indeed a significant amount of white space. But how, in the medium of email, might one investigate white space? What interaction does an email text afford? The text of opened emails is not editable unless it is cut and pasted into a text-editing program or window; however, text in an email can be highlighted. Here, the player may think to highlight the text of the email. The black bar created through this action reveals that some of the email has been written in HTML and coded to appear in a white font. Invisible unless highlighted, this white text occupies the white space of the poem. Highlighting the text reveals the following:
JEANINE
Once upon a time there was a young man who dreamed of the sea. The waves, he thought . . . the waves beat like the world’s heart, crashing and hissing against the shore.
WAS THE KEY.
Crash and hiss.
Crash and hiss.
YOU'VE SEEN HER NAME BEFORE
He loved the sound of the swell as it slapped and gasped against the hull of his boat.
Slap and gasp.
Slap and gasp.
BUT YOU'VE PROBABLY FORGOTTEN
And he was thinking about the rocking ocean, gentle as a mother’s arms, at the very moment he was murdered.
A mother’s arms.
A mother’s arms.
SHE WILL LEAD YOU TO EVAN, JUST AS SHE LED THEM...

Here, the form and the medium of the poem together have suggested a particular affordance beyond reading. The player is required to act upon the text in a specific manner in order to reveal its hidden assets. Like Gold’s ubicomp objects that assume an ordinary appearance as a kind of ruse, this email obscured its interactive properties for everyone but those who playfully investigate beyond the surface.

10:52 AM  
Blogger chuck said...

Isn't that a bit like asking...in the ludicrous world of 'game theory', is it being rather pedanticly 'ludic', or academically banal... to engage one's audience of colleagues in a search for the implicit, the "phatic"--'white space'--rather than the explicit, the "emphatic".

When the focus is expression, it is hard to focus on what is 'left out'.

To focus on what is 'left out' requires a major shift of paradigm...indeed, the beginning of a New Game.

11:56 AM  
Blogger geosworld said...

Just my opinion - white space or blank space relating to poetry = no matter the medium - convey points to ponder, for one to stop & reflect on the message / subject being relayed/

3:23 PM  
Blogger Maverick said...

Cool blog, very original.

Check mine out!

4:42 PM  
Blogger Hillary For President said...

THIS IS A GREAT SITE.

Since you are a resident of CA (great state, highlie librail), I hope you can answer a question four me.

Good advice is what I think you should provide.

With regard to that person who should bee elect vice president, do you thing hillary clinton should make Nancy Pelosi or Barbara Boxer her frist choice?

Hillary-for-President.blogspot.com

6:32 PM  
Blogger SF Photorama said...

Hmmm, interesting. I like it!

7:12 PM  
Blogger Digital Art Photography for Dummies said...

The keys danced, the monitor shook and suddenly shut off ...
http://digitalartphotographyfordummies.blogspot.com/

2:38 AM  
Blogger MachSirius said...

I think the concept of a hidden message in an already cryptic message is kind of interesting. It's been used for centuries in messaging, so this is a cool take on it.

That said, I think such device would surf well over the heads of the average player.

I don't think it's a paradigm shift to focus on what's left out. That's an old, old concept. What's new is that it's using modern tech (email) to convey the puzzle. Not a new paradigm...just another small step of evolution. Columbo always said "Look for the thing that isn't there that should be, and the thing that is there and shouldn't be."

If this were a "paper" game, you could always hand a player a similar poem on a sheet of paper and leave it to the player to figure out he needs to rubt he lemon juice on it, or hold it under the blacklight. This is just a modern way of doing it. I think embedding it in a poem is just fantastic red herring!

PS- Whoever was talking about VP's...any democrat to add Boxer as VP would be sounding the death knell. Not to mentoin the concept of two women candidates would shock the "decency" of some men.

3:51 AM  
Blogger The Yacht Broker said...

Best blog I ever met ;-)

7:23 AM  
Blogger Jan said...

I agree with machsirius that embedding a message in an already cryptic message is a great idea - but I find the white spaces containing concrete clues to the game a bit of a disapointment - if only because it becomes yet another example of a common malady suffered by many games - Its called: "guess what I was thinking" -i.e. you have to guess what the author was thinking.

I often use this term to describe a bad IQ Test item (question). An item of this type does not measure your ability to reason, but rather your ability to guess what the test author was thinking.

7:42 AM  
Anonymous us said...

nice blog

7:59 AM  
Blogger Edna Sweetlove said...

While Mystery certainly crops up in a great deal of well-known Renaissance poetry, the interactive gamesplaying inherent in the literary white space you allude to so succinctly rather brings to Edna's mind the wonderfully black pages of Sterne's Tristram Shandy. Moreover, I can attest to the fact that subversion through "space exploration" of this sort often crops up as I write my own oft-censo/ured poetry - though inevitably the "blogspace" is often multicoloured and, perhaps equally importantly, two-dimensional - for the time being, at least.

9:46 AM  
Blogger Darius said...

Growing up, my sister and I used to often play the game of taking turns speaking sentences that we were confident had never been uttered before, not even by circuitously regal articulators of characteristically bovine vernacular.

11:36 AM  
Blogger Jammu said...

Very cool!

11:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mmm...I actually like this blog a lot!

-Anonymous

11:51 AM  
Blogger Marie Linder said...

When in textual communication, it is just sooo great finding people that can read in-between the lines of what one writes. It is like love. What I am referring to is the metaphorical white spaces.

2:53 PM  
Blogger Daniel said...

I don't think it's a paradigm shift to focus on what's left out. That's an old, old concept. What's new is that it's using modern tech (email) to convey the puzzle.

Just because it's an old concept doesn't mean it isn't a paradigm shift. In this case, the paradigm is in the eye of the reader. I don't know about you, but my "read email" paradigm involves reading the words, not analyzing the white space. Solving this puzzle requres me to set aside my "read email" paradigm and look at the message from a different perspective.

3:19 PM  
Blogger Jane said...

Edna-- Tristram Shandy is my favorite all-time book! :)

3:56 PM  
Blogger MachSirius said...

daniel-
You are correct in stating a paradigm can be in the eye of the beholder. I was actually more referring to an earlier "best sentence" suggesting paradigms in this field have to be violently overthrown (an idea I heartily disagree with) to develop newer paradigms.
What I was really stating is paradigms develop slowly and are built on a system of trial and error and evolution. There is a difference between a "shift" and "developing" your paradigm. maybe a subtle sifference in some cases, but still a difference.

Ex, from a gamer's point of view- I read an email poem once and if I figure out I need to look at the white space to solve the puzzle, then I add that "rule" to the existing paradigm. Adding a rule is not shifting your paradigm, it is enhancing it or developing it.

4:29 AM  
Blogger The Writer said...

I find your blog most fascinating.
writing a paper one paragraph at
a time is a new concept for me. I'll have to give it a try. Thank
you for sharing.

Writer

4:46 AM  
Blogger The Writer said...

Correction: I ment to say one
sentence at a time. Daaaa.

4:49 AM  
Blogger Daniel said...

MachSirius, you make a good point. It is often little more than nuance that separates evolution from revolution in paradigms.

In layman's terms (which are all I have at my disposal, for better or worse), I think of a paradigm shift in this context as a "lightbulb moment," one of those experiences that make you say, "Aha!" While I will go on to incorporate this new perspective or insight into my paradigm, in that moment, it is like a little epistemological earthquake, reshaping the landscape of how I learn and how I know.

Are we talking about degrees of learning here, or about fundamentally different forms or ways of learning?

8:05 AM  
Blogger MachSirius said...

daniel-
I see all learning as incremental. That's just how the mind works. You can't understand a higher level until you get the basics. Each step becomes the basic for the next. I don't think there are too many different ways of learning. Ultimately it all comes down to some sort of nerual reinforcement. But I guess that is way off topic here =)

I definitely see what you mean with the "lightbulb" moment. personally I refer to those as my "Idiot Lessons". Those are the times when you stare at something only to have spomeone point out the most obvious thing (after the fact) and you slam your palm against your head.

11:24 AM  
Blogger C.T. said...

This is a GREAT SITE! The writing style is unique and poetic. Keep up the good work.
Visit me sometime at:
www.resourcewriter4u.blogspot.com

7:15 AM  
Blogger marry said...

Blogs are so informative where we get lots of information on any topic. Nice job keep it up!!
_____________________________

Buy Dissertation

12:06 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home