These forums for Electron Dance were closed on 09 December 2014.
MIT's book-vest
  • So, a trio at MIT made a setup for physically imparting a story's emotions on a reader: http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/jan/28/sensory-fiction-mit-technology-wearable-fiction-books

    HM and others have complained about this sort of manipulation in video games, but is it entirely the same? The book-vest only goes as far as telling the reader what emotion they should feel, rather than telling the reader what they should think. Is that an insult to the original text, or is it a good way of imparting complex physical sensations?

    I'm starting to wonder, is it the overt manipulation over the player that we dislike, or that it's poorly done? Maybe we dislike it because it's used to cover up boring or worthless themes?
  • There used to be another method for accomplishing this. It was called "good writing" or something like that. It was abolished a while back, I think.

    (Edited to apologize for sarcasm, then realized this is actually what I think. Good books have let me experience thousands of situations and emotions without the need for gimmicks. But few new books that I read are good enough to do so, mostly because the authors are too busy trying to write "psychologically deep" shit.)
    Post edited by JonasKyratzes at 2014-03-02 15:32:06
  • This is the book moving closer to the game space and, to be perfectly frank, it's gimmicky at this point. The end of this process will be the transformation of the book into a virtual experience, the holodeck goal, just being approached from the book side of things.

    It's possible that this can add to a book's experience like a linear twine game is more than just the embedded text. But this is just a stepping stone to the holodeck. The book and the holodeck are fundamentally different. The book expects the reader to recreate their own simulacrum of the story in their mind; the holodeck expects the reader to interact with a fully-formed experience.

    I am fed up with "future of the book" type stories because the future of the book... is the fucking BOOK. The holodeck is not the book. The holodeck-book is Dear Esther with a thousand times more narration.

    We have to be careful in shooting down this stuff simply because these are twine-like experiments. If we're unhappy with people tinkering with the book, then we might as well reject twine for the same reason. "Just write a fucking book."

    Having said that, I'm with Jonas. Literature is in financial freefall and looking for anything to boost its value and attraction. Whether a book is good or not is now irrelevant: it's whether a publisher can gain traction through any means possible.
  • This is not something I would do on the train, nor would I want to be sitting next to someone who's using it. I just finished The Godfather, which was a beautiful fucking book, and right now I'm reading a chea paperback of Caribbean by James Michener. It is my first Michener and it's goddamn awesome so far. What's weird is there's a section about how nasty Christopher Columbus is, one which predates The Oatmel by about 25 years. Weird! Apparently there was culture before geek culture!
  • Also I would like to apologize to mwm because this is the second topic he's proposed that we acted like grumpy Luddites about. I mean, we ARE grumpy Luddites but that doesn't excuse it.
  • Yes I've just realised I didn't respond to mwm's question. But I've had some bile in me regarding "future of the book" stories for a some time.

    On the question on manipulation... like I think we mentioned in the Infinite Counterweight, manipulation is pretty much standard. A text is always trying to manipulate the reader into emotions.

    But I think some of the tools of manipulation make us throw our hands up in despair because it feels so poorly done. And this kind of PRESS X FOR EMOTION VEST sounds like the kind of thing your typical publisher is going to do a real bad job with.
  • I mean it's like smellovision or having the seat vibrate when the Tingler attacks or when you get water splashed in your face in the muppet 3d movie at Disneyworld (I saw this in 1999 so it might not be there anymore). It's a cute gimmick. It's kinda like the Oculus Rift of games.

    Hot damn if I get an oculus rift rig, the twines I'll make...
  • "Mash your face into cyberspace to select a hyperlink"

    "You have transcended the meatsphere"
  • On mwm's OP: I would like to see a clinical sociopath hooked up to this device. That would be interesting.
  • Ha! I wonder what George Eliot would make of this. She desperately wanted to make the reader put themselves in the position of the characters. It's just, she meant it in a "Oh no, I have no money with which to buy food for my children!" sort of way, and not an "Ooh, it's chilly in here" sort of way.

    Also, I hear you can publish your own ebooks very easily nowadays. Does this single-handedly smash the control that publishers have over quality control and dictating what we read? (Answer: uhhhh... probably not?) More interesting question: can indie devs and indie writers learn from each other? They face a lot of the same problems, such as how to reach people when the market will surely be saturated with other noisy competitors with no ranking or quality control.
  • Lulz. The easy availability of self-publishing has eradicated any semblance of quality control to the point that you'd be hard pressed to find a single reviewer or critic who will agree to review such a thing. Unless you have an existing pedigree of course. I did it for a short while so I know from experience just how bad most of that dross is.

    It was bad enough ten years ago; today it's worse. The only positive spin to it is that (1) the economics have also made it easier for small and micropresses to thrive (unless it's a vanity operation these do exercise varying degrees of quality control through editorial curation and selection), and (2) on certain days I find it funny that the cultural pillars of that most stalwart and high-minded medium are being shaken by ebook slashfic writers selling hundreds of thousands of poorly-written 'novels'. Bad taste speaks, the market listens! But then, we already know that vis-a-vis Dan Brown, J. K. Rowling and any number of media tie-in novels. :)
  • Iunno why I didn't write this earlier.

    I imagine the vest as being a little less gimicky than you guys. I imagine well timed changes in temperature simulating a cold sweat. Induced numbness in some areas combined with an increase in temperature in other areas could simulate the fight/flight response. Vibrations could simulate another person's faint heart beat, or arrythmia. Pressure on the chest might be able to capture the "butterflies in your stomach" effect. That sort of thing.

    Well, that's just conjecture on my part; the prototype vest is probably nowhere near this sort of complexity. Though, now, I can easily imagine this becoming an attraction at Disney Land. Probably with a movie instead of a book, though.

    I don't really see what's good about it, but that might just be my own ignorance. I'm willing to try something, even if I don't immediately see the value in it.
    Post edited by mwm at 2014-03-13 12:04:55
  • Oh, also, Shaun... My old nazi friend in high school, he was a medicated schizophrenic. The one thing I knew to be off about him was his insomnia, and he was otherwise a perfectly upright fellow who had a positive outlook on authoritarian governments and genocide. I, uhh, I'm making him out be worse than he is, but, all the same, he had the biggest grin of his life when a guy gave him the nazi salute.

    One day, we're watching this video simulation of a schizophrenic's visit to the psychiatrist (with snakes coming out from under chairs, people making violent suggestions, etc). My friend starts *sweating*, starts talking a bit faster, a bit higher pitch. He watches the video for all of 10 seconds before he turns aside, and starts controlling his breathing. He says, "yeah, that's what it's like. I can't go through that again." It was pretty scary to watch him, actually; we couldn't even laugh at him.
  • mwm, I don't especially wish to open up political arguments, but I have a hard time seeing how a positive outlook on genocide (particularly genocide directed at, you know, me) is not all that bad. Is it specifically because his Naziism was tied up with his schizophrenia?
  • "I'm making him out to be worse than he is." He'd thought about the topic a decent bit, and shared those thoughts with me. He didn't really think it was a worthwhile endeavor (except in the rarest cases), but, he went through the effort to analyze it. That's the kind of guy he is; amoral and ambitious, but not deluded, and not uncaring.

    But, no, the nazi thing was a joke, then and now. I make a point of making fun of it whenever I mention it, but, well, know your audience.

Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!