Inessah Selditz, Deqing Sun
Plinko Poetry Machine
New York University- Interactive Telecommunications Program
Plinko Poetry Machine
The machine's program pulls and displays source text from NY Times and Fox News tweets. The user can then create a poem from the tweets by dropping a chip down the interface, which looks like a plinko board. When the chip comes to a stop, a trail of blackout poetry is created. The poem is then automatically published by being live tweeted to @PlinkoPoetry.
Plinko Poetry Machine
Plinko Poetry is an interactive gaming installation that lets users playfully create poetry from our current news headlines. The machine's program pulls and displays source text from NY Times and Fox News tweets. The user can then create a poem from the tweets by dropping a chip down the interface, which looks like a plinko board. When the chip comes to a stop, a trail of blackout poetry is created. The poem is then automatically published by being live tweeted to @PlinkoPoetry.2. The Brief: Summarize the problem you set out to solve. What was the context for the project, and what was the challenge posed to you?
Every day we’re bombarded with screaming headlines and we become numb to the meaning of these words. By creating Plinko Poetry we wanted to de-contextualize these headlines from their known format and humorously highlight the sensational, inflammatory and absurd language used by media. We also wanted to create an interactive game installation that uses surprise, wonder and reward to let people step outside of their comfort zone. Some people after being offered a chip to play were reluctant and said that they "weren't a poet." However, with one play of a chip- a matter of a few seconds- a person can becomes a game participant, a poet and a publisher all in one.3. The Intent: What point of view did you bring to the project, and were there additional criteria that you added to the brief?
Originally we assumed there would be an apparent difference between the language used by the NY Times and Fox News since they are on opposite ends of the political spectrum. But our goal and point of view was to re-create the plinko game mechanics- which is unbiased in nature and discover if our initial assumption was correct. After combining the physical and digital interfaces and juxtaposing the two together- we discovered that both media outlets use strikingly similar language.4. The Process: Describe the rigor that informed your project. (Research, ethnography, subject matter experts, materials exploration, technology, iteration, testing, etc., as applicable.) What stakeholder interests did you consider? (Audience, business, organization, labor, manufacturing, distribution, etc., as applicable)
Many times with experimental and new interactive installations, designers focus on a concept or using new technology without thinking about the average end user. It then ends up being an experience of having to explain the whole process without letting people experience and discover it themselves. Our project was originally going to be a pinball machine juxtaposed with tweets. However with pinball, there is no explicit commitment to the user and we thought it would dissuade people from trying it out. Since it's an unusual interface we felt people would be more willing to experience it if they knew the time commitment before using the machine. Therefore, we brainstormed more game mechanics and thought plinko would be a better fit. It's quick and within a few seconds one can start and finish the game. Going forward, a lot of our process was determined by simply playing plinko ourselves. It was challenging to re-create not only the physical structure (a custom plinko frame mounted on a LCD screen), but also to write a program that was responsive enough to track, animate and give user feedback simply from color tracking a red plinko chip.5. The Value: How does your project earn its keep in the world? What is its value? What is its impact? (Social, educational, economic, paradigm-shifting, sustainable, environmental, cultural, gladdening, etc.)
On a daily basis we are overwhelmed with words like "murder", "attack", "bias-crime" and "rampant.” With this barrage, we become desensitized and it necessitates that headlines become even louder to get more than a passing glance or a mouse click. Plinko Poetry is an unbiased interactive interface that allows people to remove these words from their original context. It becomes a playful reminder of their meaning and a satirical commentary of contemporary media. It also is a collective poem- a new corpus of ever changing text formed by co-creation. Although the individual poems are often nonsensical, it is a body of words which reflect the zeitgeist of current and past news events.
The idea of randomly generated haiku like poetry from current news feed is quite fascinating. The act of using the device also looks enjoyable although some of the jury members felt that its aesthetics could be better.