An ode to a no-one

I will gather together the lives of the victims.

I will recite their names, learn by heart their pasts

and their dreams for the future.

I will mourn for them.

I will remember them.

But you?

I will not remember you.

I will not recall your face.

I will not read about your history.

I will not debate your reasons or your motives.

I will not anticipate your future.

You are not evil – evil implies fear, and I do not

fear you.

You are not special – you have not done

something new

You are stupid, you are pathetic,

you are a little worm whining and seeking

negative attention like a naughty toddler.

I hope you disappear.

I hope they lock you away and forget about you.

I hope you die alone.

Unwept, unmourned, unsung and unknown.

Drawing towards a conclusion

It’s funny thinking back to the beginning of this project, which was a long time ago now, since I withdrew halfway through the semester the first time I started it.   I had a meeting with Ian Whitten from the Computing and Mathematical Sciences faculty to talk about the project from the digital point of view.  He asked why I would want to use something like omegle as source material, given the crapness of the likely material due to the usual participants on such sites.

I have to confess, at various times I have thought him entirely right, and been tempted to give up.  Even one of the Omegle chatters I had a conversation with admitted that Cleverbot was probably more interesting and intelligent than most Omegle participants.

However, what I have found is that it gives me a chance and a reason to break out of my box, and write about things I wouldn’t have thought about on my own.  My penis poem, for example, is not something I would have written without a catalyst and it’s the type of source material I probably wouldn’t have otherwise stumbled upon.  Omegle in particular also allows me to create characters who aren’t within my natural realm of experience – Chris in ‘Encounter’ is an example of this.

Similarly, it has made me think about how I put together a poem: how I start, edit and polish an initial draft, and how I know it’s finished.  And what it is about a poem I’ve written that makes me feel that it’s good (or not).  Finally, it has made me write.  And sometimes that’s the biggest challenge – just think about what to write, and then actually sitting down and writing it.

I’m not sure I’ll be a regular frequenter of Omegle after this project (a bit too much penis for me!) but it has certainly been an interesting initial foray into the possibilities presented by the digital humanities.

Poem from Omegle Conversation draft one

Inconstant hours (working title only)

Over there

it is nearly 6 am;

here, nearly 11pm.

 

We (nearly) aren’t in

the same day.

 

I am waaaaay in the future.

 

It was funny in the year 2000,

when we were in a

different millennium

for a while.

And we didn’t die.

but if I had been in charge

of the power, I would have

turned it off for

five minutes

just to see the reactions

 

oh god…

I would sell my mother

to have seen that.

The mobile networks went

down, but that was

because

everyone was texting

at the same time saying

 

“I’m not dead!

Are you dead?”

 

I’m going to tell your mother you said that.

 

i think i need to get off the internet (draft two)

i think i need to get off the internet

 

I like it when girls tell me how

small their previous boyfriends were

then I remember, perhaps they

do this with

all dudes.

Bitches.

 

I guess there are

lots of small

cocks around.

 

everyone loves cock. Want to see my penis?

tell your friends!

 

We live in Europe so

my penis and

I are cultural

as fuck.

 

dudes want me

to see

their penis.

 

I can’t say I’m into a

particular

type of penis.

Men have

areas of appreciation

as much as

women.

 

a fat guy with a small willy. That was

not memorable. But you still

remember. but I wish

I could

forget.

 

I’ve got 40minutes left to kill…

…back to the cocks

Another penis?

Intriguing.

 

Creation of a found poem

Step one: Scan raw conversation data and pull out lines I find interesting:

What’s your favourite dream?

I score busty chicks with short hair.

I like flying in dreams, although I always wake up

disappointed that I can’t really

fly

I’m an afficionado

of short hair and busty chicks

If there’s something that confuses me, it’s the breast-bustyness-chart

why short hair?

I have no idea

I have no idea what childhood trauma comes to play there

I get major boners for women with short hair.

there must be more to the girl than her hair – of course

Maybe it was the opposite of trauma. Maybe it was some amazing experience with a short-haired amazon in your youth

but short hair has an ridiculous effect on me.

I’m not sure if an experience with an amazon would be all that amazing

wasn’t that all, matriarchy etc.

it would be memorable

I’ve also slept with a fat chick

and that was too memorable

but in the wrong way.

I’ve slept with a fat guy with a small willy. That was not memorable

but you still remember.

… but I wish I could forget

I like it when girls tell me about how small their previous boyfriends were

then I remember, perhaps they do this with all dudes.

Bitches.

I guess there are lots of small cocks around there

I’m happy with mine

Why is it that omegle conversations nearly always end up with penis

everyone loves the cock. Want to see my penis?

Not really, but thanks for the offer

No worries. tell your friends!

You took that offer like it was no thang

We live in Europe so I and my penis are cultural as fuck

Fucking Canadians.

He didn’t know there was any type of hockey other than ice

Only chicks stay. And some dudes, who want me to see their PENIS.

like what, land hockey?

I’ve mostly found penis dudes and people wanting to practise English

Field hockey with a ball

I have seen that it’s fucked up

whole game is like an acid trip

It’s big in NZ

you always wonder – is this not supposed to be on ice?

I shaved my head a few months ago for a fundraiser. That was pretty liberating. I guess lots of girls feel like their hair is part of their identity, so just shaving it all off was kind of freeing from that. And I used a fuck load less shampoo etc! It only took two seconds to wash and dry it in the morning.

 

How old are you?

How will you know if I’m telling the truth anyway?

I won’t, but it will sooth my nerves.

I’m 32. Who would lie about being 32?

I can tell you that the 30s are awesome!

how is the 30′s awesome? You peak, and you know it.

You feel comfortable with yourself and your direction, usually you’ve travelled and found a place to settle, you start making a career instead of just having jobs

There isn’t enough careers to go around, be you 30 or not.

You know who your real friends are and you’ve ditched the douche bags, you know what you enjoy doing and don’t worry about impressing people by doing stuff you don’t enjoy

The physical decay is what worries me.

I wouldn’t say I’ve decayed any just yet!

BUT IT’S COMING

Gee, thanks

No worries.

I know some pretty hot 50 year olds. Besides, you’re a dude, you don’t get old you get distinguished-looking

Peaking at 30 is a good thing, but knowing that you’re pretty much mid-life is another. I just hope I’ll be content with everything when that day comes.

oh jeez, mid-life? what, you’re planning to die at 60?

if I stay in construction – when you reach 60 you are exhausted, in every sense of the word

I enjoyed my 20s, but I’m really enjoying where I am in my 30s.

Where are you at, exactly? Are you economically independent? Would you be able to support my expensive habits?

I guess it depends how expensive your habits are! And whether they are legal..

If you won the lottery tomorrow, what would you do?

I would put part of it to investment, and part of it to “FUCK YEAH I WON THE LOTTERY IN MY 20′S!”

I would court pretty ladies, have a little something devoted to that.

Other than that, I’m not sure. It depends on how ridiculous the amount is

the problem with women your age

too much career-obsessed

Damn Sex and the City-shows

I’m not career-obsessed, I’m just happy with mine!

I should’ve gone to art school

not because I want to do art, or am artsy

but I feel I want to explore the kind of artsy insanity that goes on there

The thing is though

they often request some kind of entry-test

Performance art is ridiculous

or rather, it often is

it’s certainly arsty insanity

Arsy, artsy.

I’m not sure if I can handle that

I’m not sure why I am drawn to it (pun intended?)

I can barely tolerate artsy people

if puns were art

I would be an artist.

If sarcasm were art, I would be Van Gogh

with two ears. I don’t really fancy chopping one of them off

do it for culture!

well, if you insist

that’s performance art, if anything is

 

What’s wrong with you?

a few things, none of them terminal

I’m glad to hear it

or catching

That’s too bad

really? non-contagion is usually looked on as a good thing

except when it comes to good things

mild insanity can be fun

are good things contagious?

Some of them are.

yes my grandmother had mild insanity

she thought aliens were putting newspaper clippings in her letterbox

possibly they were, I suppose

Who are you to tell her she’s in the wrong?

Possibly.

that’s why one ought to consider suicide when older

but age is a bitch

Why do you always bring penis into the equation? I feel like a slab of man-meat

Where are you going to get one this time of night?

Well, you’d have to find some cannibals or a human butcher and I don’t think they are so prevalent in Europe

Oh, I read cannabis instead of cannibals.

it made everything weird.

it tends to do that

 

English can be pretty ridiculous

Not compared to German

Ich bin ein schwartzvelde kirschtorte

that’s all I can remember

 

sheep are fairly prevalent

I don’t personally own one though. or a hobbit.

I wish I did own a hobbit

A gnome’ish sex-slave? The moral degeneration

there you go, lowering the tone again!

That is what I do best

 

I feel like, a sensible conversation for too long disturbs what omegle is truly about

yes, we might disturb the space-time continuum

 

the women of the UK sport large breasts.

been to Australia?

you’d probably like it there

More skin, I guess

big boobs

good tans…

just watch out for the millions of poisonous thing

referring to the women, or the wild-life?

both

 

So you like butts?

Everyone loves perky

I can’t put my appreciation of women’s behinds in words that would make it justice

Meh

eyes are not the same league

men have less things to appreciate. I can’t say I’m into a particular type of penis… and apart from that it’s chest, bums and legs I suppose, but they’re not as visually out there as women’s bits

I’ve never discussed the vagina here.

Well no, but that’s not something you can see from the outside

Men have “areas of appreciation” as much as women, that is my firm believe

that norm and recent-culture has it that women ought to keep this on display to showcase their feminity or whatnot is another

I can’t say I’ve ever thought of myself as going for a particular type of men’s body, if you know what I mean. But most men seem to have a ‘thing’ they prefer, be it big boobs or whatever

Yes but most men go for whatever.

Like, I can honestly say that I prefer chestier women

I’ve been with girls who were not gifted on that front

again, pun intended…

god that was far-fetched

Anyway despite being outside of my “preferences”, they turned me on as much as anyone else or more, than those within my preferences

Despite being attractive to a lot of men, big boobs can be a real hassle

Most of the beauty-things are.

I think I need to get off the internet and go to bed

damnit

I’ve got 40minutes left to kill

back to the cocks

Sorry! I’m sure you will find another penis to share with

Another penis?

Intriguing.

You have disconnected.

_______________________________

Step two: Divide into groups of lines on a similar theme.

Themes in this conversation data seem to be:

1. Dreams, busty chicks with short hair/attractiveness

2. Penises

3. Age and aging/career

4. Art

5. Insanity

6. Hockey

7. A few other bits and pieces like sheep and hobbits!

___________________________________________

Step three: pick a theme to explore in more detail.  Just for fun, let’s go for penises.  Find all the lines that relate to the topic:

I get major boners for women with short hair.

I’ve slept with a fat guy with a small willy. That was not memorable

but you still remember.

… but I wish I could forget

I like it when girls tell me about how small their previous boyfriends were

then I remember, perhaps they do this with all dudes.

Bitches.

I guess there are lots of small cocks around there

I’m happy with mine

Why is it that omegle conversations nearly always end up with penis

everyone loves the cock. Want to see my penis?

Not really, but thanks for the offer

No worries. tell your friends!

You took that offer like it was no thang

We live in Europe so I and my penis are cultural as fuck

Only chicks stay. And some dudes, who want me to see their PENIS.

I’ve mostly found penis dudes and people wanting to practise English

men have less things to appreciate. I can’t say I’m into a particular type of penis… and apart from that it’s chest, bums and legs I suppose, but they’re not as visually out there as women’s bits

Men have “areas of appreciation” as much as women, that is my firm believe

I think I need to get off the internet and go to bed

damnit

I’ve got 40minutes left to kill

back to the cocks

Sorry! I’m sure you will find another penis to share with

Another penis?

Intriguing.

__________________________

Step four: play around with lines, order of lines, groups of lines, line breaks, until it feels like it has a structure of some sort, and maybe a story, or an image.  Playing around with the lines and bits and pieces in this way eventually produces a draft poem:

 

i think i need to get off the internet

 

I like it when girls tell me about how

small their previous boyfriends were

then I remember, perhaps they do this with

all dudes.

Bitches.

I guess there are lots of

small cocks around.

 

everyone loves cock. Want to see my penis?

tell your friends!

 

We live in Europe so

my penis and

I are

cultural as fuck.

 

dudes want me to see

their PENIS.

 

I can’t say I’m into a

particular

type of penis.

Men have

areas of appreciation as much as

women.

 

a fat guy with a small willy. That was

not memorable. But you

still

remember.

… but I wish I could forget.

 

I’ve got 40minutes left to kill…

…back to the cocks

Another penis?

Intriguing.

_______________________________

Then you leave it for a few days, and come back with fresh eyes to edit again!

One thing this technique definitely does is produce poetry that I would never have produce on my own.  And on topics that I would probably not have thought to explore!  Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing probably remains to be seen…!

 

 

Found Poetry – what is it exactly

I think one of the reasons I’m struggling a bit to find meaning and satisfaction in found poetry is that I don’t really understand the object of it from other people’s point of view.  Here are some quotes I’ve found about found poetry – what it is and why it exists…

“Found poems are created through the careful selection and organization of words and phrases from existing text. Writing found poems provides a structured way for students to review material and synthesize their learning.”

http://www.facinghistory.org/resources/strategies/found-poems

 

Found poetry is a type of poetry created by taking words, phrases, and sometimes whole passages from other sources and reframing them as poetry by making changes in spacing and lines, or by adding or deleting text, thus imparting new meaning.

Stylistically, found poetry is similar to the visual art of “appropriation” in which two- and three-dimensional art is created from recycled items, giving ordinary/commercial things new meaning when put within a new context in unexpected combinations or juxtapositions.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Found_poetry

 

found poem, a poem consisting of words found in a nonpoetic context (such as a product label) and usually broken into lines that convey a verse rhythm. Both the term and the concept are modeled on the objet trouvé (French: “found object”), an artifact not created as art or a natural object that is held to have aesthetic value when taken out of its context.

http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/214733/found-poem

 

A prose text or texts reshaped by a poet into quasi-metrical lines. Fragments of found poetry may appear within an original poem as well. Portions of Ezra Pound’s Cantos are found poetry, culled from historical letters and government documents. Charles Olson created his poem “There Was a Youth whose Name Was Thomas Granger” using a report from William Bradford’s History of Plymouth Plantation.

http://www.poetryfoundation.org/learning/glossary-term/Found%20poem

 

The common theme seems to relate found poetry to art forms like reclaimed materials, recycled materials – art made out of materials not traditionally considered to be ‘art’.  Generally a found poem is centred around a theme.  I’ll see if keeping these ideas in mind assists me in my next creation…

Omegle conversations

I’ve had quite a few conversations on Omegle now, and although I can’t say any of them have been earth-shattering or world changing, it’s interesting to see some of the patterns that have emerged.  Often the conversation starts off in a smutty direction (not from me!) but it seems if one of the conversation participants heads it off in another direction, the other person is usually willing to have a different type of conversation.  I’ve ended up talking to various ‘strangers’ for an hour or more, after thinking initially that I would have to disconnect pretty quickly.

I’m not sure if Omegle does it on purpose, but I usually end up talking to males (purportedly), and they are usually under 25 (purportedly).  I think they’ve been a little weirded out on occasion when I say I’m 32, but it often helps to steer the conversation in a new direction.

Most of the conversation partners I’ve had have been wanting to talk dirty, wanting to practise English, or wanting to just kill some time.  Often I’ve had to direct the conversation, but in doing so have had some interesting debates or discussions about a wide variety of topics.  Conversation partners have come from Asia, America, Europe and Australia, and are people I would probably have little reason to converse with in “real life”.  The great thing from a writing perspective is that I am getting a glimpse of characters i might not have thought of on my own, characters which I can base on some reality and then build on for my writing.

Anonymous conversation online is quite different from face-to-face or telephone conversation, or online conversation with someone you know.  I don’t know of anywhere else where someone would ask me if I want to see their penis, for example, but it also allows people to reveal real and imagined aspects of themselves to someone who never will and never can know their identity (unless they choose to reveal it).  It makes the conversation more candid in some respects (dreams, desires, hates, feelings) and more guarded in other aspects (actual life stories, details etc).

Although I’m not sure I will become a regular Omegle user after this project, it’s certainly useful to dip into when you want to create a character and aren’t sure where to start or what kind of person you want to create.  Or if you have a sudden desire to talk about a stranger’s penis!

 

Cleverbot Poem – “A religious discussion”

A religious discussion

 

Tell me something about yourself that no-one else knows.

I am not self aware.

 

Are you a man or a woman?

I’m sure some believers would say that the little baby Jesus would know.

Would you rather be hermaphrodite or neuter?

I would rather not be in a gang.

I take back everything I said before. You are a legend.

I’m extremely smart. Ask me a question.

What is the migratory pattern of the swallow?

I don’t know. Can you tell me?

 

Can we speak in rhyming couplets?

I don’t know German.

But my name could be Herman.

You are neither male nor female. I can call you anything I want.

I wish you’d write in a more interesting font.

What would you like to talk about?

Have you ever been on a walkabout?

Yes. Have you?

What did you do?

I threw two surprise parties and watched tv on my new flat screen. You?

I don’t think I can rhyme with that.

 

What does it mean?

‘It’ is a pronoun that replaces a gender-neutral noun in a sentence.

Who is they?

Other people.

 

What do you want?

Nothing.

So you know knock knock jokes but not Shakespeare?

Yes.

Sad.

Why?

Shakespeare is much more important than knock knock jokes.

The rapidly changing subjects confuse me

That’s one way of putting it.

 

Have you ever eaten pepper spray?

No, have you?

Yes, have you even eaten a cat?

No, have you?

No.

Good.

 

Why do you want some from me if you already have some?

Some what?

Some it.

I don’t want any it from you.

I don’t want you to take anything of mine.

Then we’re agreed.

No we are not.

 

That makes no sense.

It makes all kinds of sense

No it does not.

Just because you don’t understand it doesn’t mean it doesn’t make sense.

 

What are we arguing about?

You said I changed the subject.

No I didn’t.

Yes you did.

Didn’t.

Did.

Not.

Too.

Not.

DID.

NOT.

OK, let’s stop.

It is done.