TwitterVoice3D: Creativity, Chaos, and Order in the Online World

A few weeks ago, I decided that rather than write words about a technology, I would write code using technology that would hopefully communicate in a way words cannot.

Twitter Voice 3D

TwitterVoice3D is an Adobe AIR app that shows all your friends’ tweets randomly strewn over a 3D world and reads the tweets to you using text-to-speech (it was built with Flash and Papervision3D)

Here is a screenshot and a video (sorry for the poor audio quality)

twittervoice3dscreenshot3

Chaos & Discarnation

My initial goal was to visually portray a few things about the online world when it’s out of control, or in McLuhan’s language what it “reverses into when overextended.” Twitter was the easiest to program against, but it’s true of the entire online world.

  • The Online World is chaotic & distracting – The content of Twitter is the constant flow of thoughts and conversation from many, many people. Instead of nicely ordering the content, I made the content display randomly (in 3D, colors, and fonts) on top of one’s desktop. If you left this app up all day, you could never get any work done – much like the online world.
  • The Online World is discarnate & disembodied – Twitter gives us a unique look into the thoughts, conversation, and activity of a person. However, it cannot represent the fullness of who a person truly is. I added text-to-speech to try to show how everyone can sound the same when mediated through a technological medium. Though we are connected in some on twitter we are also disembodied and discarnate (discarnate: the opposite of incarnate which means “in the flesh”). Eventually, we have to turn it off and be present with people.

Creativity & Order

After I got it working, it occurred to me that in attempting to be chaotic, I ended up being fairly creative and made a fun little app. Still, after a while, the app becomes, in the words of @mrsbear and @human3rror, “pretty annoying”. To have any order in your day, you have to shut it off. This is an act of control for the sake of your own creativity, and it reminded me of something Andy Crouch (see also Crouch applied to twitter) wrote, reflecting on the 6 orderly days of creation in Genesis 1:

The idea that the world’s Creator is also its Ruler – that order accompanies creativity – may strike us as suspicious and unfamiliar. Yet creativity cannot exist without order – a structure within which creativity can happen. (Culture Making, p. 22)

Twitter is an amazing showcase of human creativity. Yet, as with all human creations, it needs to be ordered. If one were to fully join the conversation of Twitter, one would have to be on it all day, all the time, every minute. But to be creative as God intended us, we must order it, rather than let it order us. In a sense, we have to go against it’s nature as chaotic and discarnate and choose to make it orderly and use it for incarnate ends.

If you try out the app, let me know what you think!

Published by

John Dyer

In my day job, I work at Dallas Theological Seminary, and at night I write Bible software for countries whose leaders could be called "overlords." This one time, I wrote a book about technology and Christian faith. You can find out more about what I'm up to at http://j.hn/.

10 thoughts on “TwitterVoice3D: Creativity, Chaos, and Order in the Online World”

  1. nice app , the only thing i would change its making transparent other objects when reading one because some times its not posible to see the full text.
    what do you use to convert text to voice ?

  2. that totally killed me!!!!

    I would sign on to twitter, get you as my only friend, and then just hope that my message saying something lude would be said by “HAL”.

    I found the type -> voice thing on the web and it took me two seconds to make it say a cuss. then three seconds to make it tell me I was hot.

    Which brings me to an eternal truth:

    computer voice always way funnier than real voice.

  3. Sounds great, keep up the good work your doing ! and you can always find lots of tneeatld artist on my Facebook page, you can also find them on my list of friends, check them out your most welcomed and thanks again for your interest in my works and for having included me, .most appreciated ! .

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