River Ice: Six Word Story

The DS106 Daily Create prompt today was to create a multi-media Six Word Story, so I used a childhood memory of a time on some river ice as the narrative of mine.

Peace (cracked by holding),

Prose Poem: The Acorn Wars

Acorn Wars Prose Poem

I was reading a post over at NWPStudio as someone was sharing a prose poem, and it sparked a story in my head. I sat with it for a few weeks, and then, I came across another prose poem in a book I was reading about poetry — Poetry Unbound by Padraig O’ Tuama — and the idea stirred again.

Prose poems are tricky, I think, because they might seem to surface as story, but need to have poetic elements woven into the fabric. Here, I tried to do that with some phrasing but also, the call and response of a conversation with myself, with memory of childhood the heart of the words.

I am still not sure it really worked, and I went through a handful of design choices for what/how I wanted the poem to look, from one huge block of text and font choices, to smaller pieces, broken apart, to this final version, where the response lines are their own lines, giving a little more weight to those words.

Peace (and poems),

In The Age Of AI Search, Will We Still Be Curious?

Poster be curious, second version
Poster be curious, second version flickr photo by Ampersand Press Lab shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC) license

When people seek information, we might think we have a question and we are looking for the answer, but more often than not, we benefit more from engaging in sense-making: refining our question, looking at possible answers, understanding the sources those answers come from and what perspectives they represent, etc.  — Bender/Shah, from All-Knowing Machines Are A Fantasy

Emily Bender shared this article, originally posted back in December, as the news hit that both Microsoft and Google are integrating advanced language model AI Chat functions within their search engines. Google announced their tool (Bard) yesterday and Microsoft has been ramping up its use of ChatGPT inside Bing.

An insight of theirs that struck me is how, just like when we wander a library or just like when we turn the pages of a newspaper, it’s often the randomness of the stumble upon something unknown that is the best experience. We might find a book we never knew we needed to read or find an article that has us looking for more information.

Search, for all its drawbacks in design and function, can be the same, in that when you try to find one thing, a search engine is often apt to also spit out something else. Now, this can be frustrating if you are looking for something specific. But if you are a curious searcher, a post with an odd header might have you wondering, and following, and discovering something new and interesting, or just weird.

In my reading of their article, Bender and Shah suggest that the age of AI Chat inside the search algorithms might hinder our curiosity, one of the things that make us human in the pursuit of information, as Chatbots serve us up more than we need, in a single screen space. They also address an linguistic component to the language the bots are using to provide us with information.

One of their main points is that we need to follow information back to its source, to determine its authenticity and relevance, in order to make sense of information, and AI (right now) does not necessarily allow us to do that. It just serves up information from its database in nice textual chunks.

But I’m reminded of a tagline from a YouTube channel by Hank Greene: Stay Curious.

Peace (and Wonder),

NetNarr: Voice In Writing/The Arc Of An Idea

NetNarr: Voice

A new iteration of Networked Narratives, with Mia Z., is underway and she posted an in-class prompt — What is voice in writing? — as she and her students grapple with the age of AI, and what impact it will have on our writing. The prompt seeks to suss out the human elements of writing versus the algorithmic text. (see Mia’s university students’ responses)

I added my thoughts, with a poetic slant.

Voice in writing is the human element, the creative entanglement of a person with something to say, writing on the page, the sequence and the choice of words, the phrasing that indicates the writer behind the page, the arc of an idea.

But then, as so many of are apt to do today, I fed the question into ChatGPT to see how it might respond:

Voice in writing refers to the unique perspective and tone an author adopts in their writing. It gives the writing a sense of individuality and can convey the author’s attitude, personality, and emotions towards the subject. Voice can affect the style, tone, and mood of the writing, and can make a piece of writing more engaging, memorable, and relatable to the reader. — ChatGPT

Sounds like an academic voice.

Peace (in the Arc of an Idea),

Book Review: 100 Essays I Don’t Have Time To Write

100 Essays I Don't Have Time to Write by Sarah Ruhl Book ...

Sarah Ruhl’s collection — 100 Essays I Don’t Have Time To Write — has one of the longest subtitles I have come across in some time: On Umbrellas, and Sword Fights, Parades and Dogs, Fire Alarms Children and Theater. And the length of that subtitle made me laugh before even opening to the first essay (in which her children interrupt her essay writing and with that, I was laughing again and, as a parent who writes, hooked).

I suppose that maybe I should have been familiar with Ruhl’s name as a modern playwright but, eh, I am not. Theater is rather unfamiliar terrain for me. I think that unfamiliarity may have played to my advantage, though, as Ruhl’s masterful short essays here bring us deep into the backstage of theater and production, and into motherhood, and into noticing with a childhood wonder at the world’s twists and turns.

I suspect that playwrights naturally observe at the world through a different angled lens, noticing human interactions and the way the unfolding of our days might be framed by curtains and lights and the relationship of audience/observer to actor/participant. Yes, this is all metaphor, and Ruhl is careful in how she constructs these short essays, using metaphor when needed but also, by being a careful observer of the creative spirit.

She writes of theater, but the essays are really about living a full and curious life. I’m sure I won’t be the first review to say that I was glad she found the time to write the essays she didn’t have time to write, and that she shared her often crowded space with us, if only briefly.

Peace (short but sweet),

Making Art In February

Feb1 Fold

I enjoy a challenge like this — the FlashFeb is a daily prompt with an “f” word (not THAT word) to spark the making of art on a theme. Today’s prompt is “fold.” I’m not all that talented when it comes to making visual art, but I enjoy the moments of creation, so I will give it a try. For the first week, I will probably use my Paper App on my iPad.

Join in, if interested. Learn more about the whole month at the FlashFeb blog site.


Peace (and Art),