Installing, and Setting, PIP with MacPorts

There’s a Python library, textblob, that I want to explore, but there is no current port of it for MacPorts. I like to keep as much stuff like this “in the family” as possible, and so I am going to see if a PIP selected by MacPorts will make this easy:

% port search pip

py27-pip @6.1.1 (python, www)
A tool for installing and managing Python packages.

% sudo port instal py27-pip

A lot of stuff scrolls by, then:

% port select --list pip
Available versions for pip:
none (active)

% port select --set pip pip27
Selecting 'pip27' for 'pip' failed: could not create new link 
"/opt/local/bin/pip" pointing to "/opt/local/Library/
Frameworks/Python.framework/Versions/2.7/bin/pip": permission

So, sudo that:

% sudo port select --set pip pip27
Selecting 'pip27' for 'pip' succeeded. 'pip27' is now active.

Check my work:

 % which pip

Folklore Studies and “Winged Words”

Göttingen Centre for Digital Humanities is hosting a hackathon focused on automatic detection of various kinds of text re-use. As you might imagine, text re-use comes in a wide variety of forms: “Text re-use can take the form of an allusion, a paraphrase or even a verbatim quotation, and occurs when one author borrows or re-uses text from an earlier or contemporary author.” Most of these re-uses are intentional. Scholars of text re-use also have a category of unintentional re-use, which, from a folklorist’s point of view, seems fairly familiar: “Unintentional text re-use can be understood as an idiom or a winged word, whose origin is unknown and that has become part of common usage.” Winged words seems a particular form of traditionalizing, since they are “words which, first uttered or written in a specific literary context, have since passed into common usage to express a general idea—sometimes to the extent that those using them are unaware of their origin as quotations” (okay, Wikipedia).

Interestingly, there doesn’t seem to be any interest in, or awareness of, words or phrases that are uttered within the vernacular domain, become widespread in usage, and achieve stickiness purely that way, or even get captured into a literary text. There is, however, a lovely illustration by Marco Büchler that graphs out the various possible kinds of text re-use:

Graph by Marco Büchler

Graph by Marco Büchler

Girl Games

I am working on a “girl games camp” as a possible summer activity. I was drawn to it both because I am interested in coding myself and I want to get my own child interested in coding and because I have been disappointed by the relative indifference her school has had in engaging girls in general on the topic of coding.

So I can complain or I can do something. I choose do.

For those interested, I had planned a larger project that included each person building their own Raspberry Pi computer and then loading it with a Linux distro and working with plain text files, but, as you might have guessed, that seemed a little overly ambitious as well as, in some fashion, putting the cart before the horse. I want to get participants interested in coding, not necessarily getting them coding — and I think setting someone the task of editing config files in Linux is the wrong place to start. (I know, I once tried to start that way myself.)

The overall idea for this camp/experience is to get participants to design and develop their own text adventure game. I confess I am inspired by a wide range of recent games that, it seems to me, don’t stray too far from the early text-only games but use either very simple graphics, like Kentucky Route Zero, or use audio for immersion. I am especially blown away by the live-action game, Door in the Dark, which hoods participants who then walk through, quite literally, a sound stage.

One of the things I would like to be foundational to the experience is to have participants working on the same file at the same time — the wow factor here is pretty intense and I think it really emphasizes the power of collaboration. The simplest approach seems to be Stypi. It looks like I could sign up and then simply provide a URL for participants to use. There’s also FlooBits, but they appear only to offer public spaces with the free plan, and while I’m fairly certain that would be just fine, I don’t know that I want to subject these particular participants to any externalities.

What I want them working on, of course, is code for a text adventure game. Everyone seems to agree that Inform is the way to go, which describes itself thusly: “Inform is a design system for interactive fiction based on natural language. It is a radical reinvention of the way interactive fiction is designed, guided by contemporary work in semantics and by the practical experience of some of the world’s best-known writers of IF.” So, not text adventure but interactive fiction.

Some things I have noted for this project:

  • The Verge has a story on some of the early interactive games on CD-ROM focusing on some runaway hits made by women developers that have been lost to the larger history of “computer/video games” — I wish I knew the proper name for this genre.
  • On the topic of games, especially alternative games, Zoe Quinn has a post on BoingBoing on Punk Games.

There’s Not Much to Talk about When You’re Taking Pictures of Houses”: The Poetics of Vernacular Spaces

For those interested in my older work on material culture, I’ve finally scanned, OCRed, and uploaded my essay from Southern Folklore, entitled “There’s Not Much to Talk about When You’re Taking Pictures of Houses”: The Poetics of Vernacular Spaces. It’s up on, right now, and I will probably make a duplicate copy available here when I get the chance to get all that straightened out.