Text and Electricity

Text and Electricity

Poets and Geeks

Storified by Brian_Condon · Tue, May 08 2012 11:03:42

I’ve been thinking about this for a while – the idea of bringing together poets and technical people – geeks, coders, hackers – insert whatever descriptor you feel comfortable with. Of course, similar things happen all the time at #C4CC – but generally focused on projects and usually with a specific goal in mind – such as a performer working with a coder on a piece, or a fashion artist collaborating with an electronics engineer… 

I phoned Will Montgomery of RHUL’s Poetics Research Centre and talked it through with him. He liked it; we talked about structure and approach – a conversation punctuated with short sections where participants talk about their work but with no formal presentations. A quick Eventbrite page with words mostly from Will. And a name “Text and Electricity”.
Text and ElectricityText and Electricity is an afternoon symposium designed to bring experimental poets together with those working creatively with technology: coders, circuit-benders, dorks and hackers.We plan a loosely structured and exploratory conversation, punctuated by short informal accounts from participants talking about their work and approaches.
Will and I did a bit of prep before the meeting, agreeing on our approach to facilitation and some back up themes if the conversation flagged (misplaced fears!). We decided to “let go” of the meeting as much as possible; hoping the conversation would flow naturally and that the approach would work.
popping down to Text and Electricity at the #C4CC now. may be interesting re: bringing together @OKFN coders w artists. http://t.co/fRSpDsBu
Beginning #textandelectricity at #c4cc . Wow. The intros are blowing my mind even before the conversations start.
As we went around the circle and people introduced themselves and mentioned their interests, I thought “This is going to work” and glancing across at my co-facilitator Will – I could see he thought so too.
John Sparrow Talks While Mark Rooke Listensbrian_condon
We started with John Sparrow, based in the USA, and talked about his work and generative text – projected on a wall outside the circle.
Itch AwayWelcome to Itch Away, which houses the poetry discussions and practical work of John Sparrow. New material will be added to this site on an ongoing basis. For now, please check out the blog. You can subscribe to it using the link in the left-hand bar.
Initially, I thought that I’d be able to facilitate, participate and Tweet. But it soon became obvious that something had to give – so I focused on the discussion and listening hard. 

 Our in-house polymath – @kat_braybrooke was active on Twitter – joining in the discussion in the room and beginning conversations with people on Twitter. What follows is Kat’s tweeting and some other material from the web.
@zeroinfluencer @stml, are your ears burning? we are discussing @weavrs & new forms of generative interactivity at #C4CC code/poetry meetup.
WeavrsStarting from interests given to them by their designers, Weavrs learn new emotions and grow to empathically reflect the interests of those around them. Social Formed from the social web, Weavrs publicly blog, checkin, comment and chat. Give them their own Twitter account and they’ll Tweet about their lives and answer everyone’s questions.
@robmyers last tweet pertains to you too. "how does one deal with language thats currently deconstructing *itself*?" cc @weavrs (via #c4cc)
@kat_braybrooke help it by growing its corpus and giving it new tools?
"the rise of blogging was a way to write ourselves into existence, but what happens when those blogging aren’t human?" @brian_condon #c4cc
Kat’s Tweet follows my reference to the work of David Weinberger and his blog – here is his post: 

 “Thursday, November 29, 2001 
The Web vs. Computers Please allow me to state the obvious: the Age of the Web is succeeding in part because it is undoing the excesses of the Age of Computers. With the introduction of the PC, we spent our days staring into a screen, manipulating data and composing words in clicking silence. With the Web, we spend our days staring into a screen looking at other people, or at least looking at how other people choose to present themselves. But the Web runs through and on computers. 

The way computers have changed us persists in our online selves. Just as we can manipulate symbols and words with computers, we can manipulate our selves on the Web, if only because Web conversations are mediated through written language and thus can be drafted and revised. Even the immediate conversations – chat, IM – occur through keyboards, allowing us to compose ourselves as we compose our words. We are writing ourselves into existence on the Web. Together.” 
You can find his blog archive here: http://www.hyperorg.com/blogger/archive/2001_11_01_archive.html
@zeroinfluencer @robmeyers u should come to next discussion! now talking post-post structuralism (hah), nodes, David Harvey, machines. #c4cc
David Harvey at Occupy London (12 November 2011)
"I’m trying to provoke a feminist analysis of flippancy." at #c4cc people now (inevitably) adding gender into the discussion about machines.
poet using "Internet as stimulus" to portray a march, while reading her poem from her phone at #c4cc – an interesting mesh of agency & code.
The poet Kat refers to is Prue Chamberlain and here is the poem:
Join Me on The BridgeIn an act of undeniable symbolism I have burnt my upper thigh with the iron while doing a shirt. Not a small affliction, no, but the welt…
talking more about @weavrs, avatarization, coding and ‘Self’ at #c4cc, we’re realising it’s all the same: authored, constructed poetry.
"language is now collapsing on itself… that might be horrifying." "but it’s also now dynamic and interactive. and that’s amazing." #c4cc
hahahaha, @lloyddavis. am especially amazed by the poignant nature of @LewDDavis’s most recent tweet [cough] cc @weavrs
@robmyers shared ur point re @weavrs at #c4cc discussion. really interesting fodder for intriguing conversation btwn coders & poets/writers.
KAIBRAY DOT COMKAiBRAY DESIGN: graphic/web design and online community-bulding for NGOs by kaitlyn kat braybrooke.
@therourke haha. nice to meet you. also, your glitchy avatar reminds me of those pokemon episodes that caused seizures amongst viewers 😉
@therourke ha. i like how you managed to mention ‘loops’ re: your seizure avatar. very #c4cc discussion 😉 speaking of: http://t.co/KRfNeIZf
Thanks @kat_braybrooke at #c4cc & @robmyers for positing @weavrs as "bots that think they’re human". I can feel a #PKD reference coming on
RT @therourke: PKD was 1st writer to posit robots that thought they were human. Do @weavrs have empathy? Some of #PKD’s did (cc @kat_bra …
Phillip K. Dick Android
@evanraskob ah, before i forget, here’s what i was talking about: #radcoco / http://t.co/VlhPe2Tt cc @federicacocco – and yours? 🙂
WE ARE LONDON’S RADICAL CODING COLLECTIVE.Somewhat unsurprisingly, I’ve been thinking a lot about the intersections between gender and machine languages lately. An article has been making the rounds on Twitter today that raises some key points about the so-called "women in tech" boom, specifically as applied to startups and small organisations in Silicon Valley.
And here is Evan’s blog
Computational Designer In Residence at Ravensbourne | pixelpusher :: pixel performance and artI’ve recently been appointed as Computational Designer at Ravensbourne, which allows me to continue developing open source software for art and design and also teaching people how to make things using software (and programmable hardware).
There’s also other activity – during the same week even – looking at this area:
Can Artists Help Us Reboot Humanism in an Over-Connected Age? | ArtinfoThis year’s "Seven on Seven" conference seemed to represent an emerging consensus among artists and technologists that it is time to slow down. But can we?
And of course, we need to think about what happens next. Positive feedback from participants. It was an extraordinary discussion – and I’m still thinking about it. We may do it again possibly in June. Let us know – add a comment perhaps. The important thing it seems to me is to connect people who might not otherwise meet; and see what happens!
@PrueChamberlain hey lady 🙂 thanks for follow, and rad to meet you at #c4cc meetup. would like to see more of your work re poetry/feminism!
@kat_braybrooke it was great to meet you – I’d like to hear more about your work & hacking, so if you fancy a drink around #c4cc let me know

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