My first project was aborted due to illness. I could not have carried it out and time was running out. The second project evolved from class readings and discussions. It was then discussed with Alicia, and later with Owen before it was presented in class.

Interactivity, Project Proposal 2

Title: Experiencing Alien Virtual Environments

Purple: My thoughts on the questions

Red: Comments made in class

Blue: My conclusion about my thoughts and class comments

Development of the Idea (a.k.a. The Brainstorming Process)

It began by thinking about virtual identity. We know that the internet is filtered according to a complex arrangement of personal and demographic information. This information comes together to form a virtual environment with which we interact.

A person can create an identity for this environment. It doesn’t have to be true. However, that is not quite as easy as it once was. I remember when I was in college, the internet was so much more anonymous. There was no face book yet. Social networking wasn’t a huge thing. There were message boards, mailing lists, and E mail, but it hadn’t quite created the identity web we have now. It was easy to create an anonymous journal and secret web pages. My friends and I used to play games online sometimes. We write stories together and enacted them through message board systems. It was fun because we could interact anonymously without fear of criticism. That is a lot harder to do now! But, I digress.

Anyway… I started thinking about how real fictional characters can become.

And then… I was thinking about Alicia’s project with word maps. And I thought…. what if I took that program and used it to create word list based on recurring words in powerful fictional text.

I wondered if I entered the data from that fictional source into the internet through browsers or face book or something like that, would it then take that data and construct a virtual identity from it. At first it was an awesome idea. However, upon discussion with Alicia (which I instigated due to excitement) and further thinking it through, I decided that it probably would not happen.

The problem is that as soon as I start entering data from a famous text, it is likely that I will get sent to study sites, book reviews, author pages, and other similar sites that reference my text of choice.

I considered setting up profiles of fictional characters, but that isn’t really the point. Obviously I can construct their identities. My question was about whether the internet filters could do so.

I also considered carefully editing out all the proper nouns to see if that would make anything happen. I might try that sometime just to see what happens, but my instinct is that any book that has interesting enough words to produce interesting results, is also interesting enough to have many analyses already online that would then be targeted by the filters and presented to me as study sources rather than identity.

So, I talked to Owen. ‘Cuz that’s what you do.

Owen suggested that I think about specific types of internet users and how the filters compare. He suggested immersing the viewer of my project in someone else’s environment.

EUREKA a project was born.


Conceptual Question

How do we experience alien virtual identities?


 Experimental Process

  • Construct Archetypes to be used.

According to[1]

archetype [ahr-ki-tahyp]


1. the original pattern or model from which all things of
the same kind are copied or on which they are based; a model or first form; prototype.

2.  (in Jungian psychology) a collectively inherited unconscious
idea, pattern of thought, image, etc., universally present in individual psyches.


Stereotype [ster-ee-uh-tahyp, steer-]



3. a set form; convention.

4. Sociology. a simplified and standardized conception or
image invested with special meaning and held in common by members of a group:
The cowboy and Indian are American stereotypes.

I am sticking the definition right here because it is important that I specify that I am looking at exploring a pattern that exists without regard to moral judgment. This is not a standardized concept that has been invested with meaning and that is often used to cause harm to members of a given group.

Questions: How many? Upon what will I base the archetypes? How many Archetypes should I have?
Thinking: I think I will start by doing some research on literary archetypes and Jungian philosophy. There may be some interesting thoughts there. Then I will expand into sociology and psychology.

Alicia suggests Google demographics as a starting point

Good idea, further research needed

Nate wanted me to explore the affect of randomly generated archetypes on the filters

Why? This would not in any way answer my questions. I am not interested in testing the filters that way. If I want to know how they work, I will study the computer code. I am sure someone does know and the information is likely available if I want to research it enough. I want to know how people experience an alien virtual environment. That requires something with meaning and purpose. I don’t just want to confuse them by giving them weird, randomized data. I want them to see from a different perspective

  1. Determine What the Filters Want

I need to do my best to research and figure out what the filters use to decide things. Then I need to make a list of commonly used programs, Apps, services and figure out how they interact with each other. Google and Face book seem to be pretty forthcoming with that data so I should be able to find it.

Questions: Where do I start? This seems like the hardest part.


  1. Create the Profiles

Create two profiles based on the archetype and the information filters want. Make sure to justify and document my choices.

Note: I am sure that at some point I will simply have to make value judgments about what kind of profiles my two archetypes will have. This is an art project not a science experiment. My goal is to give people an experience from an alien perspective. If I need to deviate from the archetype somewhat, then I will do so. However, I will document it in my background research.


  1. Set up Devices

I need to set up devices. I will create virtual profiles and install software and Apps as needed

Issue: This could be difficult since I don’t think even “guest” mode on browsers is really all that anonymous. It would be best to simply use unused machines and start fresh

Owen says there are old I Pads I can use

I got two I Pads. I can get two more if I decide I need them


  1. Create/Run Web Searches

I need to run web searches as the archetype characters. This should give the filters something to filter to create more complex identity. In order to do that, I need to create web searches.

Question: Can I use Goggles “Most Searched For” mad justify why the search terms fit the archetypes?


  1. Let People Play

Make a list of hot-button search terms. Ask people to try entering them into the computer to see the results.

Question: After a while, I think the filters will change and the results will become more and more like the random users who participate. I think it is probably important that I do some initial searches and create a visual that allows people to see how it started. I am not sure how or to what extent I should do this.



Programmed I Pads

Research and Documentation

Instructions and Search Terms

Other Possible Visual Representations of Data



Set up side-by-side presentation boards. Display the profiles on the presentation boards. Put the I Pads in front. Allow people to interact with them.


[1] archetype. Unabridged. Random House, Inc. (accessed: November 17, 2016).