Giving Digital Text a Voice

with a gesture towards

Finding Our Voice With Digital Text

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All poetry seen in this project, unless explicitly stated otherwise, was written by me. Poetry and Programming by Daniel Hershel Silber-Baker.

Overview of the Project

explain and preview demos here a little bit but mostly after introducing myself

Who am I in Relationship to this Project

My background in poetry

Camp Counselor Poetry
National Poetry SLAM Champion and Activist Poet at UC Santa Cruz

NYC Poetry

feature poet and winner of the Nuyorican Poetry SLAM

NYC Poetry

Grand Slam Champion of the Bowery Poetry Club

The Poetics of Struggle

Lessons Learned from Teaching

- everyone is a poet, or has the potential for poetry unexercised in them. - people in all fields and across all phases of life have a creative desire and potential that in most fields of study and work are not honored and practiced. This was reflected in my class which was offered to undergraduates as well as graduate students and community members of Santa Barbara. In my classes I had students from across the sciences and engineering, as well as english and the humanities. I had graduate students, PHD candidates, undergraduates of all years, as well community members whose ages ranged from 21 to 50. - I heard over and over how desperate people were for creative reflective outlets that pushed them to process their world individually and collectively. I had multiple students take my same class two semesters in a row. - I know this works. As I was transitioning out of my teaching position at UCSB I worked with former students of mine who have created and still ongoing student group called The Poets of Struggle, namd after the class I taught. I passed on my calss syllabus and exercises to the students who have continue to meet and perform at UC Santa Barbara. {{find documentation}} - I also learned that 'Poetic Knowledge and Practices' has a great value for people doing work across all fields. - other lessons learned? connections to this project?

Why This Project

all the writing in the world about why. Needs to be filtered Because understanding and sharing the story of who we are is the most important human activity. And the current tools and frameworks we have for exploring and creating expressions of ourselves have, and continue to fail us. Because we want so desperately to be seen and understood, and so often feel neither. And because humans can leverage technology to develop better, more creative and complex frameworks for how we tell stories about, who we are, and why its important.
Because linear, one-dimensional, hierarchical, and traditional forms of language constrict our ability to articulate ourselves in the imaginative ways that we experience and conceive of the world.Because my best friend and brother was arrested for murder and my family had to create the language to convince a judge to release him back to our-his family. Because traditional family trees don’t fit my holocaust surviving, multi racial, adopted-foster-birth brother constellation, my gay dad, my bi-sexual mom, their partners, the grandchildren of their ex partners and everyone else who makes up my family constellation.
And because I need tools of expression and frameworks of understanding that let me say I love my family. I miss my brother in prison. I am in a constant conversation with my ancestors and future dwellers. And have everyone know what I mean.
Because technology is a site of great possibility, where the means of cultural production are contested, and the rate of reproduction is unparalleled. Because language, and our ability to express ourselves is unfinished, forever unfinished, like us humans, and earth, and time and reality; all dynamic and evolving systems, disguised as still portraits. So we need to paint over the portraits;write poems beneath the paintings; animate the still images; give life to our language and express ourselves beyond the boundaries of what our culture in chaos offers.

Because we have only two choices, Chaos or Community, and in order to survive we need to better understand each other and ourselves and for that to happen we need the tools and environments in which to imagine, create, and articulate the expressions of who we are and who we could be.

How do we articulate our identity in a social environment that demands more material productions of self expression then ever before… Too few spaces to do it in an intentionally and professionally designed environment created to leverage computational power in service of you expressing yourself with creative, generative tools that grow with you And provides you with all the ‘data’ you produce in actionable ways for you to continue expressing yourself in all aspects of your life Use technology and human facilitation of the activities built in, to explore, imagine, and re-create the wor(l)d!

Who is This Project For?

a) for everyone because so much of our communication and meaning making is done through digital text and its far too restricting for us to say what we mean...and I need to be able to say... b) writer, poets, people who write and feel digital text doesn't offer the expresivness they desire. As my friend Lauren Whithead {{introduce}} said to me "we've been trying to move words around in mocrisofot word, because that all we've had! But we can do so much more, but nobody has figured it out yet..." So I'm trying to figure it out
Who is this for Poets and Programmers and everyone who thinks they are neither but have something to express, and will soon learn that they are poets and programmers. (fixz up that langague and break down specifically which parts of the thesis are for which and then exaplin and break thigns down at a level that matches who each part is for)

Diving In To The Project

Giving Digital Text a Voice

Data Structures and Methods Overview

Data Structures

  • string
  • json
  • svg object


  • Video and Text
  • SVG Animation
  • Javascript Animation
  • Environment



Video and Text


SVG Animation

fireAndViolence1.0_fullDoc_web from Daniel Silber-Baker on Vimeo.


Javascript Animation

- We Be - Poetry as Play {{maybe also the textualizer and shuffling text here?}}

Data Structuer: String

{{poetry as play/mutable alphabet}}

Data Structure: JSON

{{we be/clickable}}



The Gesture Towards Finding Our Voice with Digital Text

II)Leveraging computation and programming to automate the generation of poetic creation tools

A word pool generator using python backend webscrapper and javascript frontend ui for interactivity

Word Pools are a tool often used in creative writing exercises

Scraping the Black Panther Party 10 Point Plan from the web: Go

Living Archive

All the poems written go into a living archive where they can be drawn from for more poetic genration and creation activities. (word pools from poems written from word pools--recursive word pool archive?)

User Testing

Also I think here is where I would put the story of collaborating with other poets if I am able to pull that off Put together the story of what I have done with documentaton ANd then do some more and document it here as part of THesis slide deck

Next Steps

Build on this work with imbuing digital text with a voice, by leading a collabration with artists and programmers (and digital designers), in developing creative systems of digital expression. To take the ideas explored in my thesis and to build them and what new langague and practices are generated in the collaboration between artists and developers, and to create systematic reproducable digital frameworks for expressing ourselves. Methodology: Logic and Imagination Example uses would be - educational - organizational - enterprise - social (media) So if anyone has suggestions on funding sources, or is interested in funding such a project, please let me know Smiley Face