Here we are.
I never much cared to be around other people. All they do is complain complain. And gossip. And brag. What’s the point of it all?
But this was different. I didn’t realize how notorious I had become. My virtual face had been stuck inside a “Wanted” frame and posted upon every square inch of available disk space like I was some kind of criminal from the Old West. All I did was delete a few “innocent” avatars.
It was all a game. At least to me. But somewhere in the back of my mind, I knew it wasn’t.
This world was the new real. Over the past twenty years, automatics had taken over physical labor, leaving only the creative aspects to humankind. Some people pined for the old ways. Idiots.
This world is so much fun. You can do anything you can imagine. But that’s just it. Some people can’t imagine. The virtual world they have created for themselves matches what was once the “real,” down to the last stinking detail. What’s the point of that?
So all I did to get me into all this trouble was to free those sorry people from their pathetic lives. And if they were really that attached to them, they could always apply for a new identity. It’s not like I actually killed them.
But, by the definition of the law, I had. So what if they can’t remember anything once they’ve been disconnected from the mainframe? It’s not like they had anything important to remember, anyways. Nevertheless, I just couldn’t shake this nagging feeling, like I had done something wrong. Or perhaps that was the feeling of my pod being opened.
Everything started to blink out of existence and the world faded to black before me. Panic coursed through me as I tried desperately to cling to my reality. Don’t wake me up.
The door slid open and blinding electric light filled my field of view. I tried to close my lids, but some kind of innate instinct to see my attackers, something I would never have experienced inside the matrix, prevented me. As my eyes slowly adjusted, two humanoid shapes appeared above me. How did they find me? I had not linked my digital signature to my physical body at all. I thought.
From an outsider’s perspective, it was probably kind of funny. The criminal, blinded by the light of justice, being read his rights by automatics, cowering in fear of what he himself had done to so many others. Termination.
And all I could think was, please don’t make me go back.
Hanauma Bay, Hawaii, one of the most beautiful places on Earth I have ever seen. Brilliant, pure colors all around: rich greens, gorgeous blues, and bright sand. The above photo was taken by my mother on our Hawaii trip a few years ago. The below is a screenshot from Google Earth.
All color and life has been leeched from this picture. As the camera pans around the giant inlet, only the grandeur of sheer size is preserved. The rest, neglected.
Hanauma Bay State Underwater Park covers 100 acres, and the beach is 2000 feet wide. It is one of the most popular tourist destinations on Oahu Island and accommodates over three million visitors per year.
I still remember that day. My sister and I walked the beach, snorkeled, and sunbathed. We explored through the sand and made deep footprints in the wet muck.
I got a good tan and read one of my favorite books, while feeling the breeze pass by. Watched the wildlife roam in the straw, brown birds, bright birds, and some kind of weasel-ferret thing.
Little details lost in Google Earth. Even the beauty of the reef, gone. You can see the complexity of it, but there is no dimension. It is too flat for a camera on a satellite to pick up, even though there is another whole tiny world in there, one that is only visible from the beach, where automobiles with delicate equipment cannot reach. The nearest street view is from the parking lot, where only the heights can be seen.
At least from the street view, color is not lost. Look at all the shade in just that one tree on the far right. The beach is much more vibrant than even that. Google Earth simply does not do this stunning place justice.
I admit it, I love Pokemon. I am mostly a collector, as I do not have the knowledge necessary to getting the best Pokemon, stats, and move sets. But I’m addicted all the same. Since the storyline changes with every game that comes out (though the stories are usually quite similar), I will be explaining the five aspects of morality with regards to the game mechanics, rather than plot.
1. Harm/care: This has always been a controversial issue in Pokemon. Players trap Pokemon in Pokeballs, and force them to fight each other. But, apparently, we’re friends with Pokemon? They get injured and knocked out, but we always take them to a Pokemon Center or give them a potion to revive them.
2. Fairness/reciprocity: The more time you put into the game, the more experience and money you get. You can also trade Pokemon with other people, and in that respect, you set up your own rules of fairness. The Pokemon themselves also have a particular idea of fairness. The more attention you give them, the more they like you. But if you let them get knocked out too many times, or give them nasty things to eat, they don’t like you any more. This doesn’t usually apply, however, except when you try to evolve certain kinds of Pokemon.
3. Ingroup/loyalty: The more time you spend with one Pokemon, the more friendly it becomes towards you. The more time you spend battling using one Pokemon, the stronger it gets. It is easier to complete the storyline using just six Pokemon, rather than switching between parties all the time. You can not, however, afford to be loyal to one or two specific types of Pokemon. Each type has its own weaknesses and resistances, and you need many types of Pokemon so you are not at a disadvantage against any one opponent.
4. Authority/respect: The player is basically the authority. However, some Pokemon disobey their owner because their owner isn’t strong enough. If you get a high-leveled Pokemon via a trade, you need a certain number of gym badges in order to control it.
5. Purity/sanctity: Not really sure if this applies or not. The player is supposed to be a young kid, fresh and morally good, not having committed any crimes. The player can not change this fixed personality. They are always the good guy, and can’t commit any legal crimes (though I suppose, you could deliberately abuse your Pokemon and make them hate you, so that the move “Frustration” becomes more powerful). Outside of the game, however, some people actually cheat and use codes and hacks and abuse bugs in the game in order to advance, get rare Pokemon and items, clone Pokemon and items, and get maximum stats.
All in all, I think the Pokemon games have mechanics that can please anyone. Obviously, the game caters to Achievers the most, as I think it is with many, if not most, games. You can earn all 8 gym badges, defeat the Pokemon League, complete your Pokedex, and champion the Battle Frontier (in the newer versions). There is rather a small map for Explorers, but it is sometimes a challenge to navigate. Also, the Battle Frontier in the newer versions has many battling challenges, some of which include navigating a randomly generated maze. For Socializers, you can trade, battle, and chat with your friends. Killers can attempt to get the most powerful Pokemon and battle other players through several means (wireless, infrared, Wi-fi).
The games that others have mentioned that I think I might enjoy are RuneScape and Oregon Settlers. I am an Achiever, with an occasional wish to explore and a great desire to collect. These games seem to fit my likes.
I chose to create a distant reading visualization of quotes from the Doctor Who episode “The Christmas Invasion” using the IMDB quotes page. Here is my pic:
Obviously, “doctor” is the most important word; it is Doctor Who after all. But the interesting thing about this picture, is that since it is made from quotes and the format for quotes is “(person speaking): (what they say),” you can’t tell if the word “doctor” is the most used because he is the one most often speaking, or because he is the most often referred to by other people. Or it might be a combination of these. Or, it may because some quotes are repeated, incorrect, use stage directions, or are interpreted differently by different people. There is so much variety, that this picture tells us more about the quotes page itself, than the actual Doctor Who episode.
As far as coming up with a new distant reading tool, I’m not particularly creative, so it’s likely someone has come up with this before, but here goes: a 3D model of a page of words, with the words at different heights. The different heights of the words could mean the amount of times the word is repeated, the significance of the word (left up to the artist’s interpretation), the number of letters in the word, the number of syllables, the number of different letters in the word, etc. The list goes on and on. I know this is a very general idea, but I think flexibility is good for this kind of thing. It means many people can use this tool to demonstrate different things about a piece. And 3D stuff is cool.
Counternarrative to “Jumping!”
Hah! Last time they all got together before college/marriage, indeed! Anyone can plainly see that these people are much too young to be going to college and/or getting married! They’re still acting like kids, for goodness sake! I mean, just look at them attacking each other like that! They’re not jumping into the lake because they feel like it; the two girls in the red were chasing the girl in the white shorts and they plummeted off a dock, hardly closest cousin behavior. And there is absolutely no way they could have jumped off a boat like that; they’re too high to have jumped off a low boat, and everyone knows taller boats have all these safety rails and such, not to mention you can’t bring a boat that tall into a tiny lake! The date is clearly a lie, too. September 10? It would be far too cold to go swimming in a lake in just spaghetti strap shirts and short shorts. No, for whatever nefarious reason she has, Sara has clearly lied about this photograph. You simply can not take her at her word that this was a friendly family outing on a large boat on September 10, and that these children have all graduated high school.
Counternarrative to “Baltimore City Hall Internship”
Obviously a fake ID! There is no hologram or watermark on it. Even a child could tell you makers of real identification cards always put on those shiny stamps to prevent counterfeiting. For example, University of Maryland ID cards have a circular hologram with the words “University of Maryland” and the numbers “18″ and “56″ on the left and the right, marking the year that the Maryland General Assembly chartered the Maryland Agricultural College. So areal City of Baltimore identification badge would also have a hologram of some logo, perhaps the same one that you can see in the upper right hand corner of this fake card.
Another piece of proof that this card is a fake: the address listed on the card is 100 North Holliday Street, but if you check Google Maps and go to the street view, it brings you to 157 Guilford Avenue. 100 North Holliday Street does not exist! Jason made it up, and fabricated this story in order to fool his parents into thinking he was working this summer, when in actuality, he was scheming to rob a bank. He got an ID printer from some of his fellow conspirators and used it to create this piece and others for carrying out his infamous deed.
In making a Digital Archive of myself, I would include objects that I am proud of and/or attached to. Things from my childhood, awards I’ve received, and my collections. I have saved many of my old things that bring to my mind fond memories. My old Polly Pockets (the original, not the ugly gigantic ones they make today), Magic School Bus books, elementary school awards, medals and ribbons from when I competed in gymnastics and trampoline, and my collections, which are still ongoing. I collect marbles, pencils (decorative ones), stickers, and dragons. More recent objects I include would be mostly digital. Videos of my gymnastics performances, Java programs I’ve written, as well as augmented reality projects I’ve created.
“Please climb down, Castelle.” I blinked in surprise. I was standing on top of the instructor’s desk again. I kept hopping up there for some unconscious reason. I guess I just really like to be up high.
“I know you are impatient to get out and see some real action, but please remember, you are here so you at least have a sliver of a chance of surviving.” Why thank you for having so much faith in me, teacher. “Now, though it is against my better judgment, we are in need of some minor assistance. Some of the mana worms that are attracted by the power pylons to the east have gone rogue. Go kill a few and bring me back six vials of mana residue.”
My eyes lit up. Did she just assign me a real quest? No whacking practice dummies or slaughtering innocent lynx cubs (though their meat is tasty)? I actually get to fight something that will try to kill me? Yes!
I hastily donned my quiver and bow and shot out of the building as fast as one of my arrows. I didn’t even stop to see if Zair, my dragonhawk, followed me. He always did.
Racing towards the east, I reveled in the cool evening air. Teacher had kept me trapped inside all day, reciting all the skills a hunter can learn through experience, and what kinds of animals can be tamed, and what professions are available, and yada yada yada. I didn’t sign up for her course to learn all that drivel; I signed up to learn how to fight!
Running felt so good. Stretching my legs as far as they would go, feeling the wind run through my hair, listening to the happy chirps of Zair as he flew beside me, I would have passed by the pylons, if it weren’t for a sharp zap across my face knocking me flat on my back.
Dazed, I hoisted myself up on my forearms and saw Zair attacking the mana worm that had found its way right in front of me as I was running. Poor guy, every time Zair touched it the slightest, he’d get a taste of its electricity, but he’d keep trying, refusing to let it sting me again, my ever-faithful companion. There was only one thing to do. Shoot it.
Climbing off the ground, tearing my bow off my back, I readied an arrow on my string, pulled back, and let fly. It sunk into the worm’s eye with a squishy kkkkk. It fell to the ground, wriggling a bit before giving off a flow of energy and condensing into a solid, glowing orb. I poked it with my little finger. No shock. I picked it up and placed it tenderly in my carry sack. Well, that was easy.
And then we got swarmed. One down, five million to go.
If I were going to create an E-lit version of my narrative I might add:
1. Images. Definitely. Most of my detail got cut out of my story due to the 500 word limit. So, I’d show the room that was being investigated, to set the scene. I originally had a whole paragraph dedicated to this detail, but *pokes above statement*. Next, I’d shown the cards, since my character makes such a big deal out of them. And maybe I’d add in a couple other images, too, just to break up my story a bit and slow it down.
2. Hyperlinks. Another must-have addition. I make two reference to outside material that people who haven’t seen them would understand. The first, a reference to the 4 am video we had to watch for week 2; so I would link to that. The second, a funny bit from one of my favorite TV shows, Psych (my character is also inspired by Shawn and Mary from Psych, as well as Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Who). I would include a link to the IMDB quote page for this episode (EDIT: IMDB didn’t have the quote I wanted, so I submitted it, but it’s taking forever for them to review it, so in my actual e-lit, I included a link to a video of the scene).
3. Video. As I mentioned above, I referenced a Psych episode, and so, at the very end, I want to include the adorable scene in which it is revealed that Mary actually did make a paper hat for a special friend named Ben.
4. Italic text. I’m a big fan of sarcasm and emphasizing words. But this is hard to get across in writing. Italic text is one of the most common ways to get the point across. “So what did you think of it?”
5. Color. I’m a bit undecided on this one. Color is important; it can set the mood and highlight key words. This is seen in the week 3 reading, These Waves of Girls. The author uses vibrant, neon colors to make everything seem really strange, and wacky. However, I don’t think this is especially important to my narrative. I don’t really have any key words, and I admittedly wasn’t really thinking about mood when I wrote my narrative, so therefore it doesn’t really have that either. But if I wanted to add one, color is what I would use to do it.
And here’s my E-Lit version! http://terpconnect.umd.edu/~ccummin3/LAH/LAH.html