It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!
Software: Sea and Spar Between (digital poetry)
Authors: Nick Montfort and Stephanie Strickland
Year: 2010, cut to fit the toolspun course edition 2013
Source file: https://nickm.com/montfort_strickland/sea_and_spar_between/sea_spar.js
“How to Read SaSB” page: https://nickm.com/montfort_strickland/sea_and_spar_between/reading.html
Blog post about bug fix: https://nickm.com/post/2020/01/sea-and-spar-between-1-0-1/
Stephanie Strickland and I wrote of a specific part of the Sea and Spar Between code: “The following syllables, which were commonly used as words by either Melville or Dickinson, are combined by the generator into compound words.” This particular way of conflating Melville’s language with Dickinson’s was important to us. However, due to a programming error, it wasn’t being done. What was line 255 in version 1:
does not accomplish the purpose of adding the Melville one-syllable words to the variable
syllable, which holds an array of Dickinson’s words at this point. The concatenation happens, but the
concat() method does not change the
syllable array in place. The resulting longer list is simply thrown away. This line has been changed in version 1.0.1, published yesterday. The relevant line, because of the addition of explanatory comments, is now line 286:
syllable = syllable.concat(melvilleSyllable);
I noticed this omission myself only years after the 2013 publication of cut to fit the toolspun course, a richly commented edition of Sea and Spar Between. As a result of my mistake, the compound or kenning “toolspun,” used in the title of that work, never was actually produced in any existing version of Sea and Spar Between. This was a frustrating situation, but after Stephanie and I discussed it briefly, we decided that we would wait to consider releasing an updated version until this defect was discovered by someone else, such as a critic or translator.
The system has been translated to Polish and has been “remixed” once that we know of. The ELMCIP database lists 20 references to Sea and Spar Between in critical writing.
The defect was only discovered recently by a critic, Aaron Pinnix, a Fordham PhD student doing a dissertation on oceanic literary works.
The cut to fit the toolspun course edition of the project (incorrectly given the title “cut to fit the tool-spun course” in the journal Digital Humanities Quarterly when it was published) is less than 1000 lines long, not lengthy for an academic paper on electronic literature. This may be the most detailed discussion of a digital literary system’s code by the authors of that system.
Yet Pinnix discovered the mistake simply by carefully reading the system’s output and carefully reading statements that Strickland and I made about how the system was supposed to work; there was no tracing through the code and no CCS analysis done. It seems that a thorough and attentive traditional reading, in this case, led to the most complete understanding of how this system works so far.