Interactive Narratives and Electronic Literature


Interactive Narratives

I am the CEO and Founder of TinkerStories are interactive narrative tablet apps that expose the hidden connections that children must make when learning to read. By allowing readers to demonstrate how words work explicitly, children and parents enjoy reading more. Children learn better. Most importantly, TinkerStories encourages parents and children to develop and bond over their own reading rituals around literacy. This work was the result of my PhD thesis at the MIT Media Lab.

As a postdoc, I created a literacy tablet for One Laptop Per Child. This project tested how children in remote Ethiopian villages who had no literacy skills developed literacy by interacting with a tablet.

I serve as meeting scheduler and blogger for the People's Republic of Interactive Fiction. We meet monthly and try to share our experience developing interactive narratives and industry news.

Electronic Literature

I serve on the editorial committee of Taper, a digital ezine that explores how constraints can be used to spur creativity. Every issue presents small poetic HTML5 experiences that meditate on the issue's numerically inspired theme.

I have published four digital poems:
Rise, is dedicated to the magic of baking. The stanzas, like yeasted dough, start off jumbled in a dense heap. Slowly, the "virtual yeast" is worked by computation (a metaphor for energy and time) to cause the bread to rise, The lines reveal themselves from the bottom up, so the viewer doesn’t see the whole poem until the very end, when the bread is done. This simulates the experience that bread (like the poem), is not finished and appreciated as a whole unless one waits for it to finish rising.

Pop, is a meditation on the duality between pop culture and making toast. The watchful art of interacting with both social media and toast is exhibited. The lines start off jumbled to show that our feelings for media and comfort food are mixed. Both experiences require careful monitoring and watching. Over time, we hopefully learn how to channel our energies productively.

Slices is a shuffle poem that can be read in four ways. On a conceptual level, "Slices" explores how pieces of a poem could be rearranged vertically and horizontally. Bread is a symbol of simple comfort and offers much open-ended customization. It has much in common with the pursuit of creative programming for me. Here, three artistic personalities are represented by slices of bread. When all the slices are stacked together, the poem describes making toast on a Sunday morning as people wait for the toaster to pop. By pressing the “|||” or "shuffle" button, the slices are rearranged to form four different combinations of relationships between the artists. Crumbs, is a deletionist poem about the parallels between baking bread and social media use during self-isolation. Baking is a practical art, an expression of love. Boules, no-knead loafs, and baguettes have risen in popularity since quarantine. Shelves are emptied of flour, yeast is scarce. Social baking is a sign of our obsession with connecting online. At the end of the day, one needs to evaluate which efforts yield an experience that sates us?

A fifth poem, titled "Starter," is currently under review.