Join 3,562 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


"Telescopic Text"
August 18, 2008 9:30 AM   Subscribe

I made tea. {Flash, I think. Via notcot.}
posted by dobbs (59 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
JavaScript, not flash. Also it's throwing some kind of error on every click ("RESET has no properties")

On the plus side: The correct use of a kettle, rather than some substandard water heating technique.
posted by Artw at 9:34 AM on August 18, 2008


Not sure about all the fussiness about cold water though, that sounds a bit bollocks.
posted by Artw at 9:35 AM on August 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Ya, it's JS, but uh, kinda pointless?
posted by booticon at 9:35 AM on August 18, 2008


I made a comment.
posted by daniel_charms at 9:35 AM on August 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


It reminded me to have a cup of tea, but that's not exactly hard.
posted by Artw at 9:36 AM on August 18, 2008


TelescopicText is pretty clever. Needs a markup language. I suggest an XML derivative. Then a time machine to the late 1980s to beat Tim Berners-Lee to the punch.
posted by DU at 9:37 AM on August 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


SPOILER ALERT: Dude made a cup of tea.
posted by sveskemus at 9:38 AM on August 18, 2008 [4 favorites]


Mmmmm. Tea.
posted by fiercecupcake at 9:39 AM on August 18, 2008


Is this Xanadu yet?
posted by enn at 9:39 AM on August 18, 2008


Cute. I like how it shows how simple sentences end up holding stacks of implied information.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 9:39 AM on August 18, 2008


100 clicks changes it from Hemingway into David Foster Wallace.
posted by Damn That Television at 9:39 AM on August 18, 2008 [15 favorites]


Yawning, I () just gave up.
posted by ddaavviidd at 9:39 AM on August 18, 2008


I started expanding all the phrases, to paste into here as a lololspoileralert, but it would have required all sorts of tedious fixes with spacing. Not worth it.
posted by booticon at 9:40 AM on August 18, 2008


I think portions of Xanadu were supposed to work like that.
posted by Artw at 9:40 AM on August 18, 2008


This is like reverse editing. A simple statement becomes 253 words lifted from what I swear is something I once heard read out in a creative writing class at uni.

Telescope it back down please.
posted by Happy Dave at 9:41 AM on August 18, 2008


Yadda yadda yadda.
posted by The Loch Ness Monster at 9:41 AM on August 18, 2008


Is this Xanadu yet?

nuts
posted by Artw at 9:41 AM on August 18, 2008


Fantastically boring
posted by Mister_A at 9:41 AM on August 18, 2008


This had the potential for so much more. Imagine a murder mystery operating in this format, for example, teasing out clues with every elaboration.
posted by naju at 9:42 AM on August 18, 2008 [3 favorites]


Needs more screaming rotting zombie pop-outage.
posted by everichon at 9:42 AM on August 18, 2008


[spoiler]Yawning, I I and smearing my eyes with my fingers, I walked walked bleary eyed into the kitchen and made made myself boiled the kettle. filled the kettle. took the kettlegrabbed the kettle, unhooking it from the cord and filled it.. I filled it with fresh waterI turned the tap and drew fresh water, making sure it was cold enough checking with my hands to make sure it was cold enough () (The best tea comes from the coldest water!). I filled the kettle as I glanced outside at the mistoutside for a minute across the city mist. I could taste almost taste the grey. I got some biscuits. The kettle was full so I plugged it inThe kettle was half full, so I switched the tap off and returned it to its socket. I turned it on I flicked the power switch on and got some biscuits out.looked for biscuitssifted through the cupboards, looking for biscuits. Anything Anything above loose crumbs would do. I Thankfully I found some fusty digestives. Biscuits For some reason, biscuits are nicer always nicer when they're they've gone a bit dry and stale. I took the milk out of the fridge. I took the milk out of the fridge and poured some into a mug. I reached over and opened the fridge, retrieving the milk. I got a mug and poured some milk in. I poured a little into a mug at the same time as grabbing the mug from the cupboard and placing it on the surface. This This is a technique I developed that doesn't really save any time, but makes me feel clever. Then I made myself The kettle began grumbling fiercely so I poured water on to a teabag so I took it from the cord, threw a teabag into my cup and poured boiling water onto it and watched it brew. . I watched swirls brown swirls rise up and through the watermuted white of milky water. A few minutes passed. I put the teabag in the bin. I removed removed and squeezed the teabag, then flicked it into the bin. I picked up my mug and left the kitchen with teaa cupnice cup, hot cup of tea strong tea. [/spoiler]
posted by Happy Dave at 9:43 AM on August 18, 2008


Neat idea, but -- and maybe this is just the programmer in me -- I don't see what makes this impressive. It's a nice use of JavaScript, but aside from a little pet project (I've made the same sort of thing), I don't really 'get it'. Perhaps the poster can elaborate on what we're supposed to be awed by?
posted by Dark Messiah at 9:44 AM on August 18, 2008


Yadda, yadda yadda yadda, yadda yadda (yadda) yadda.

Also, the best tea doesn't come from the coldest water, you're just wasting energy
posted by anthill at 9:44 AM on August 18, 2008


Sheesh, everyone knows loose leaf tea is much better than bags.
posted by Eekacat at 9:44 AM on August 18, 2008


Teabags are, IMHO, perfectly acceptable. Messing about with leaves is for special occasions. Never been a fan of the milk first technique though. Possibly the story would be better if it involved an industrial laser, but the drink might suffer for it.
posted by Artw at 9:47 AM on August 18, 2008


Aiiie! The markup! My eyes! They burn!

Learn some unobtrusive JS techniques Joe Davis. This is not the 90s.
posted by Artw at 9:49 AM on August 18, 2008


This tea-post, it telescopes?
posted by Mister_A at 9:52 AM on August 18, 2008


I liked it. I liked the wending path of narrative that, yeah, telescopes out.
posted by klangklangston at 9:55 AM on August 18, 2008


When the water runs cold, it means you've cleared you building's plumbing, with all the handyman solder joints and pipes that have been dry and corroded at various times. Water directly from the main is usually much cleaner. If you continue to run the water, you'll feel a series of temperature drops as you clear the water to larger diameter feed pipes up to the municipal main.
posted by StickyCarpet at 9:55 AM on August 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


I thought it was boring.
posted by callmejay at 9:56 AM on August 18, 2008


Best of the web?
posted by rough ashlar at 12:34 PM on August 18 [+] [!]


I usually try to not comment in my own FPPs, but dude, are you fucking kidding me? Jesus.
posted by dobbs at 9:58 AM on August 18, 2008 [7 favorites]


'The best tea comes from the coldest water!' Oh, I don't think so. And use a tea-pot, you heathen.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 9:58 AM on August 18, 2008


This is a technique I developed that doesn't really save any time, but makes me feel clever.
Heh.
posted by krilli at 9:59 AM on August 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


When the water runs cold, it means you've cleared you building's plumbing, with all the handyman solder joints and pipes that have been dry and corroded at various times. Water directly from the main is usually much cleaner. If you continue to run the water, you'll feel a series of temperature drops as you clear the water to larger diameter feed pipes up to the municipal main.

And, perhaps implied in your explanation, warmer water dissolves more minerals and changes the taste.
posted by Mental Wimp at 10:00 AM on August 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


v2.0:

It was night.
It was a dark night.
It was a dark and stormy night.
&c.
posted by Mister_A at 10:03 AM on August 18, 2008 [6 favorites]


Sheesh, everyone knows loose leaf tea is much better than bags.

Tea-bag tea has its uses. Like hiding the poison you put in the cup.
posted by daniel_charms at 10:03 AM on August 18, 2008


Yeah, not so best of the web. But I love your Journal, dobbs!
posted by mrnutty at 10:13 AM on August 18, 2008


T.U.S.A.
(We need tea to set us free.)
posted by monospace at 10:17 AM on August 18, 2008


Why didn't he just ask Magda?
posted by mkb at 10:45 AM on August 18, 2008


As I telescoped words and phrases out, I was so hoping for something like, "I made (a likeness of myself from tiny pieces of clay I stole from the prison crafts lab, day after day for nearly three years, and left the dummy in my cell bed before going to the cafeteria for breakfast. I told a guard I was on mess duty and went into the kitchen. When the garbage truck came, I paid the driver the 500 dollars I promised him and jumped into the piles of bags in the back, covering myself well. Once we got to the dump, I stripped off my uniform and dressed myself in whatever clothes I was able to find. I then walked to the nearest Greyhound station, bought a ticket for Vancouver, and left the country. Checking in at a Salvation Army hostel in town, I took a long hot shower, changed into the clothes those good people left me, then went down to the kitchen and enjoyed) some tea."

Instead, yea - editing in reverse.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 10:47 AM on August 18, 2008 [3 favorites]


It's not interesting as technology, and it's not even interesting as interface design or hypertext narrative. But it's interesting as a proof of something that usually only gets bandied about by theorists and demonstrated in overbaked ways by HCI students: The telescoping of complex information within its own summary.

That the essential text is banal ("I made tea") is the point. If you're not into tea making or interested in the complexities and ramifications of how some other dude makes tea, you stop there and move on -- you don't have to click. Otherwise you can delve to the extent that you're interested.

It's like the 'Read More...' link on a blog's homepage, only optimized for the reader's convenience. Think of how it could improve a legal form with the full verbiage encapsulated in its short form; Not only could this make it readable to laypeople, but recursive clauses and backreferences to other sections can be embedded and only made visible if desired by the reader.

The downside to this authorial and tagging technique is that, until we have really good automated text parsing the markup for this sort of thing is a massive labor sink.
posted by ardgedee at 10:52 AM on August 18, 2008 [4 favorites]


The fact that this idea has been around since the 60s and not really made huge inroads might be indicative of something as well.
posted by Artw at 10:54 AM on August 18, 2008


This is like reverse editing. A simple statement becomes 253 words lifted from what I swear is something I once heard read out in a creative writing class at uni.

Telescope it back down please.


It's maybe not the case in this particular example, but "Why not just say X if you mean X?" is not an absolute, and I sometimes worry that we've raised a generation of editors who think so. "Boy, things sure were complicated during the French Revolution" is not a better opening for A Tale of Two Cities.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 11:01 AM on August 18, 2008 [4 favorites]


I liked it. My metric: I wish I had thought of it first.
posted by Plutor at 11:09 AM on August 18, 2008


At first I saw this I was wondering how it got past moderation. When I started clicking on the words, I thought this was the coolest thing ever! haha
posted by jnscoopz at 11:14 AM on August 18, 2008


Sheesh, everyone knows loose leaf tea is much better than bags.

Some people really like the whole tea-bag experience.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:20 AM on August 18, 2008


This would have been a lot better if at the text finally ended with "THE CALL WAS COMING FROM INSIDE THE HOUSE."
posted by Pastabagel at 11:23 AM on August 18, 2008


It's a better idea than of these.
posted by Artw at 11:29 AM on August 18, 2008


the implementation is not cool - switching a bunch of hand edited spans. instead you could hold the entire text in a tree and then automate the expansion/display of nodes. that would enable tricks like "animated" breadth/depth first searches...
posted by not sure this is a good idea at 11:31 AM on August 18, 2008


I think the cold-water thing is also to ensure your water is properly oxygenated. Cold water can hold more solute than warm, and for some reason 'proper' tea should have oxygen in it. This is also why you're supposed to remove the water from the heat as soon as it's boiling, or even a moment before. If you let it boil, the oxygen is escaping.

Now me, I just slam some hot water in a cup and let it brew until I remember about it again. Turns out fine.
posted by echo target at 11:59 AM on August 18, 2008


Speaking from a teacher's standpoint--I intend to use this tomorrow to teach students how to expand their thoughts from the bare bones that they are used to slapping down into something richer--writing is rewriting!
posted by ancientgower at 12:01 PM on August 18, 2008


[Metatalk issues go in metatalk. Don't go a-slagging in other threads.]
posted by cortex at 12:46 PM on August 18, 2008


I thought it was cute.
posted by grouse at 1:21 PM on August 18, 2008


ardgedee: "That the essential text is banal ("I made tea") is the point. If you're not into tea making or interested in the complexities and ramifications of how some other dude makes tea, you stop there and move on -- you don't have to click. Otherwise you can delve to the extent that you're interested."

That's sort of my department, as I'm majoring in computational linguistics right now, so let me throw in a few remarks. "[T]he essential text is banal" - yeah, you're right there: it is banal because it doesn't deviate from expectations. Usually text understanding relies heavily on scripts and schemas - they basically give you a framework of expected actions and you only have to introduce new information if there's a deviation.

So, to use an example every student is is very tired of hearing about, if I go to a restaurant and tell somebody about it I won't start the narration with "We entered the restaurant through the front door, removed our coats, sat down at a table and waited until a waiter showed up and handed us printed menus which contained the possible food choices on one side and the prices for them on the other..." because most of that is expected. There might be slight differences (if it was a high class restaurant you might expect to wait for a waiter to show you to your seats, which you reserved in advance, a possibility to hand in your fur stole or overcoat and gloves; a fast food joint has similar, but slightly different scripts; there might be differences concerning where and when to pay for the meal (expectations differ from country to country)) but by and large "I went to the restaurant yesterday" covers all of that - when there is no change to the expected script. When something unusual happens you usually mention that "...but I noticed too late I had left my wallet at home" and that information in itself fits with the schema in which you're expected to pay for a meal at the end of it.

So this story of the cup of tea can be - like almost any schema - extended nearly indefinitely by explicitly mentioning information that is usually implicitly given. And since this adds basically no new overall information the story gets a bit boring because expanding the tree uncovers no deviation from the expected.

Oh, and yes, automated text abstracting and summarizing (which is basically doing this telescoping reverse) is currently a pretty hot topic and quite a bit of work is being done in that field.
posted by PontifexPrimus at 1:49 PM on August 18, 2008 [9 favorites]


I'm interested in crap, and now I have some.
posted by luckypozzo at 2:08 PM on August 18, 2008


From the same author, a sad tale - Quand l'amour fut pris.
posted by tellurian at 7:52 PM on August 18, 2008


Standing around the schoolyard in those post-Forbes days, I tried out sentences meant to describe, with Forbes-like precision, whatever I happened to be seeing: "Sister Lynette hovered in the doorway like a nun hovering in a doorway holding a peanut-butter sandwich, which was what he, George, also was probably having later today, in terms of lunch." This, revised, became: "Sister Lynette, with sandwich, stood in the door." And then: "Sister, sandwich, in door." Well, maybe that was taking it too far.

Then Sister moved from the door, and stooped to pick up a scrap of paper, and an entirely new reality appeared, requiring a bright new sentence. When a person resolves to improve his prose, everything he is and everything he believes in, consciously or unconsciously, must be brought to bear. The movements from vagueness to precision, from generality to specificity, length to brevity, passivity to activity, involve, mysteriously, a corresponding movement from falsehood to truth.

Specificity, precision, and brevity, applied in language, drive us towards compassion.

posted by jhc at 8:54 PM on August 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Lentrohamsanin: "Boy, things sure were complicated during the French Revolution" is not a better opening for A Tale of Two Cities.

Oh, I dunno - it could be The Good News Translation of Dickens!
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:48 PM on August 18, 2008


I hate to be that guy, but this would be great if it actually were an interesting story. You know how they say that every story can essentially be reduced to three words? Well, write a story, derive the three-worder, and render the intermediate forms.

Sorry about the snark, but to me this is really an example of great idea, poor execution.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 7:54 AM on August 19, 2008


« Older A View of America...  |  "Magnum photographer Thomas Dw... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments