Hypertext 2007

So I’m here in the (believe it or not sunny) Manchester, England attending the Hypertext and Hypermedia conference. I gave my presentation on our study of Jumpcut.com, which was well received albeit a bit rushed before lunch. I will admit that I’ve been surprised by this conference so far; it’s much smaller than I expected. In my presentation there were only 40-50 people and I have word that total registrations are only at about 70, so it’s really more on the scale of a large workshop than a conference. The advantage is that I’m getting to meet and chat in depth with people moreso than I do at some of the larger conferences I attend.

Whereas the papers being presented yesterday were somewhat boring, I found the papers this morning to be really really interesting. My favorite so far is a paper entitled Assembly Lines: Web Generators as Hypertext by Elizabeth Losh, a faculty member at UC Irvine who has also recently visited and spoken at our (Georgia Tech’s) Living Games Worlds symposium last spring. Web generators are online apps that produce media based on some simple input or interaction from the user at the outset. Here’s an example from www.churchsigngenerator.com


There are tons of these things online and I’ve even seen some popping up as Facebook Apps (e.g. the Chuck Norris Fact Generator, or various quote generators). Web generators are sort of the most simplistic form of remixing that I think you could imagine. The programmer of the generator sets some sort of creative context (e.g. church signs) that people can then fill in with meaning-forming details which get incorporated automatically. A lot of the interfaces for these things are as simple as a page refresh or a button which re-generates, but I’m interested more with what could be done with slightly more sophisticated interfaces, which are less form based and more interactive, perhaps facilitating some kind of tweaking once the initial bit of media is generated. Anyway, neat stuff and an engaging presentation by Elizabeth.

Here are some more fun generators:

Biblical Curse Generator

Pirate Name Generator

Web 2.0 App Generator