Open Source Soundboard for Live Performance

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Last semester, I needed a bare-bones soundboard to cue up and play sound clips for AARPlane, the midterm performance of my Puppets class at ITP. Not knowing my way around pro audio software (which I’m sure makes this a simple task) and seeing that the current landscape of online soundboards consists of awfully-designed holdovers from the days of Flash, I decided to build my own. It’s far from full-featured – currently it will just play, pause and replay sound clips – but if you need to need a “world’s-dumbest”-style soundboard, I think you should give this a try.

Getting it up and running is straightforward-ish (and definitely needs to be straightforward-er):

  1. Install NodeJS
  2. Download the code from GitHub
  3. Create a sounds folder inside of public and place all of your web-encoded audio files in it (mp3s work fine)
  4. Open the project folder in Terminal and run npm install followed by node app
  5. Point your browser to 127.0.0.1:3000
  6. Click a sound to play it! Click again to pause!

All of the source code is available on GitHub, along with my list of issues (I’m accepting pull requests!).

The Adventures of Teen Bloggers

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For my thesis project at ITP, I built The Adventures of Teen Bloggers, a creative-nonfiction graphic adventure that lets you become a real teen blogger from the heyday of LiveJournal.

With the project, I want to highlight the tension between the value our online data has as historical documents and the embarrassment we feel about the things we shared in a prior phase of our lives.

Upon starting the game, players are asked to pick a LiveJournal account. Any extant LiveJournal is a playable character in the game, though I encourage players to play with their own account if they had one. Players are then placed in a high school hallway, where they must navigate the world only saying things that their selected LiveJournal user wrote on their blog.

The game is a work in progress as I continue to research online archiving. Specific next steps are outlined on Github; the source code for the project is there as well. You can play the game here.

Below is the presentation I gave on the project during ITP’s Thesis Week.

Thesis Progress: Building a Chatbot a Day

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My thesis project continues to evolve as I explore the world of online adolescence. I rewrote my thesis proposal statement, originally posted here, to better address the “big ideas” I want to address. Here it is:

It can be uncomfortable to revisit adolescent journals, now knowing that they were often nothing more than vapid rants. However, they served a purpose: to establish a sense of self and to define the author’s identity both to him/herself and – in an online world – to the public. The public nature of blogging sites old and new help to reinforce this. Furthermore, it enables us, as adults, to recall this transitional adolescent identity in a way that previous generations have not. What does it mean that I can pull up 14-year-old Sam with only a few clicks? That, as a child of the internet era, I am never far from an earlier version of myself?

Sarah suggested I use people’s old online journals to allow them to talk to their adolescent selves, so now I’ve started to explore chatbots. Chatbots have been around for decades, from ELIZA in 1966 to the chatbot that I think most of my peers would remember from their adolescence: SmarterChild. With the ultimate goal of using the corpus of old blog entries to enable a conversation with your prior online self, I’m now building “a chatbot a day” to give me a feel for the capabilities of chatbots and how people want to interact with them. You can talk to my chatbots here.