Clare Hooper, from the University of Southhampton, is presenting StorySpinner, which is a bit like an automatical story generator. Ractor and Meehan’s TaleSpin are probably among the most famous, Christopher Strachley’s love letter generator probably the oldest of this kind of electronic literature. StorySpinner is built around “cards” (tarot cards, actually) that have links (the Empress is linked to motherhood, for instance) but the reader never sees the links directly. In her prototype, Clare has set up two kinds of story, “The Three Little Pigs”, being the most developed, I think. As a reader chooses a story and a style (standard, long, brief, illogical, explorative) and then you’re shown a deck of tarot cards (though other decks could be used instead) and when you choose one card, that determines the start of your story. You click through the other cards, and depending on how each card is linked behind the scenes,
In prototype, StorySpinner doesn’t have an authoring system, so you have to mark up the styles and stories and links between the cards manually, basically by programming, I suppose. Ideally there’d be an authoring environment, so authors could easily develop their own stories and new styles. She’s also interested in other variables, like for instance, the reader’s mood, or the time of day, and so on.
Clare says she’d love people to try StorySpinner out and to get more feedback on how people find it. You can download it from her website. She’d also like to explore other styles – for instance, logical contraints but no time constraints. At the moment the system is there for exploration, to sit down and see what you can do with it and what you would like it to do.