Tap That

With all the new touch-screen technology out today, even traditional forms of writing are becoming more modernized. Take, for example, the traditional academic essay. Times New Roman, 8.5×11,include sources at end. Prompt to be announced.

Depending on the theme, this piece has more than enough potential to die right there on the page, scanned lightly under the eyes of the teacher. Emotions are non existent. Images are reduced to 12 point font adjectives.

But what if there were a way to give new life to these compositions? What if what was written deserves more than this MLA-styled jail cell?

There’s a new app called Tapestry that turns essays into a tactile and visual experience. Made for use on touch-screen devices such as the iPad or iPhone, the “tap essay” lets readers pace themselves when going through the essay.

Stories ranging from 2-screen, animated gif jokes to statistic-laden informational essays fill https://readtapestry.com/. The reader physically taps (get it?) the screen, advancing the story. The catch though, is that once tapped, the screen doesn’t turn back. So pay attention.

Personally, I found the format to be annoying, as the tap authors are able to do pretty much anything to make the reader wait for the text- such as having to tap for every word to appear, in some cases. After creating my own though, the style grew on me, and I experimented with pauses, sizes, and emphasis.

Check out my finished product on Tapestry- Cleverly Malicious Graffiti: Civil War Edition

Curious about Tapestry? Try it for yourself; it just might surprise you.

Lazy days mean lazy blog posts.

Is usually make the effort to log into WordPress and blog from my computer, but today is a lazy day. The weather in Blacksburg is definitely October-esque, and what better way to celebrate that than by writing on a blog while eating peanut butter and sitting in your pajamas at home?

There is no better way in the entire universe, I checked for you.

Recently, I’ve been drafting a tap essay using the Tapestry app. Writing a tap essay feels novel in a really interesting sense – it’s not just me learning a new medium, it’s me learning a new medium that the world has never really encountered before. Robin Sloan’s “Fish” really opened the door for the Tapestry to exist as a form of communication rather than just art, and I think that’s kinda neat. It’s just really interesting – you can group a lot of social media together under a “status update” umbrella category, but the tap essay sort of made its own category.

Facebook and Twitter have become so big, their names became the standard? In the same way that we say “can you grab me a Kleenex” versus “can you grab me a paper tissue,” we now say “Facebook it to me.” In that last sentence, it took me a while to even remember what to call a tissue without calling it a Kleenex.

Since Tapestry is kind of sitting there on its own, I think the tap essay could turn into something big. The thing is, it’s been in existence for a while. How long did it take for Facebook and Twitter to bow up? If something doesn’t become exponentially popular in a year or two, will it sit forever unused? Tapestry definitely holds the potential to be a beautiful, effective learning tool, but as I use it today I can’t help but wonder whether my message will be received without using one of the supernova social media tools.

And that leads me to a question – how important to we need to feel before we share a message? If you only had one Twitter follower, how would you tweet differently? If you had no Facebook friends, what would you post?

Then again, I don’t think anyone reads this blog, and here I am. My challenge to us both: just tell your story, and let social media figure itself out.

Introducing the Tap Essay

Using the Tapestry app has been an interesting experience so far. Inspired by Robin Sloan’s “Fish,” the app allows users to create an interactive narrative. It’s somehow more intimate than turning the page of a physical book, even though the stories are relatively short and exist online. In my opinion, Tapestry is the digital equivalent of listening to a story someone else is telling you, including all of the pauses where they wait for your affirmation to continue.

In order to create my own Tapestry, I’ve come up with several topics that might translate well into what I think is an exciting new format – it’s the narrowing down and selection process that’s giving me trouble. Do I turn an old commentary about Twitter and erroneous citizen journalism into a humorous, snarky tap essay? Do I choose the image-heavy idea about math and beauty in nature? Do I go with the topic I know and love, Dave Matthews Band and their fanbase? What about the more serious route of explaining third-party trackers and the Google Chrome extensions that block them?

Again, my problem isn’t that I feel too limited in Tapestry, it’s the opposite. While only one of these ideas might be good enough to translate into a class project, the rest are Tapestries just waiting to be made. And although these seem like they’re more fun to read than they are to make, I’m looking forward to the process just to see what storytelling can become. It’s nice to think that Sloan’s dead fish inspired so many living, active stories, isn’t it?