freddie chen midterm project pitch: not even a little bit of a clue

My idea is a to create a hypertext narrative of linked html pages that demonstrates what I feel some theme of some texts in this class (I’m honestly not sure what any of that meant).

The origin for my idea is from observing my own internet surfing habits. I tend to plug a single question or subject into google that happens to have caught my interest at that particular moment. Then I open up separate tabs for the first several results,  and while I’m waiting for those to load my mind wanders and I start a question. Eventually I end up on youtube or wikipedia and and start spinning off yet more tabs of tangentially related subjects, until soon I’ve forgotten what my original line of thought was and my attention is spread thin across a dozen shallow subjects, clicking through pages with an automatic motive force that is barely sentient. Almost inevitably my browser crashes, causing me to lose everything and stare blackly at my empty screen while I try to figure out whether I actually lost any worth having. And then I open my browser back up trying to continue whatever stray bits I can remember.

Basically, my project idea is to try and recreate that browsing experience and connect it to the texts of our class, particularly Mandrake and My Body. I feel like Mandrake Vehicles is about how we process information–in a semi random absentminded fashion that is only partially based on logical association. I think My Body is about how a body, a person, an identity, is an abstract assemblage of information and actions memories and events and knowledge. And in this day and age we all have digital footprints, abstract incarnations defined by the questions we ask online and the sites we visit habitually.

Mandrake–information is random, or at least disorderly

my body–information is identity

web surfing–somehow combines the two



My current plan is to write a long rambling essay-ish  text that starts on a single topic (probably a blogpost-like discussion of digital storytelling) and then branches in a multitude of tangential or incidental subjects that are barely connected. I’ll then take the long text and split it up among a family of html pages that are connected by hyper-linked words with semi-intuitive associations, often forming paths that loop back around or lead to into even further tangents. Scattered among the links will be ‘chase-breakers’ (memo: think of better name); events or pages that are complete non-sequiturs  serving to utterly distract and derail the reader’s current train of though. With any luck, the labyrinthine rabbit warren of my ADD id will make the reader feel they are navigating the thought processes of someone’s mind, in the process learning about that someone’s trends of thought and interest and personality.

Preliminary ideas for chase-breakers:

  • kitteh videos
  • page plays a loud obnoxious noise that makes reader search desperately for a link to escape (rickroll?)
  • pages consisting solely of lists of unmarked links leading to parts unknown

Concerns regarding the ‘kernel’ text:

I’m worried that this will need to be long while also requiring a balancing of coherence and chaos. It will meander through a variety of topics, transitioning through use of bizarre metaphors, pop culture references, and flights of fancy. I also feel that it will need a very distinctive, engaging voice, which I’m not sure how to generate without simply dissolving into rants on my various pet subjects. I just don’t know if I’m to the task of writing such an ambitiously subtle thingamajig (or whether the thingamajig is actually rather imbecilic in its conception).

other concerns:

  • lacks originality: from a technical standpoint this project shouldn’t be more challenging than Twelve Blue or My Body. But that raises the question of whether I’m responding to or simply imitating those texts. 
  • fails to clearly connect with texts: or that I have fundamentally misunderstood the nature of these texts. My largest thematic inspiration is actually The Mandrake Vehicles, which I’m not sure how to address.
  • my thematic message is unclear/non-existent: honestly, I’m not entirely sure about the exact nature/feasibility of this project’s goal.

If you can’t tell, I kind of wrote this post on the fly. In the words of Han Solo, “Sorry about the mess”


~ by Freddie on February 25, 2013.

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