One Week, Better Tools (spoof)

While several of my friends have been working hard this week on developing a new digital-humanities tool at One Week | One Tool: A Digital Humanities Barnraising, I’ve been spoofing their original Ideascale site to get feedback on options Monday and Tuesday with One Week, Better Tools. Or as I explain on the site:

We’re working out what One Week, One Tool should be building this week. In this space, it doesn’t matter what the #owot community is doing, because YOU know better.

OWOT folks don’t necessarily value your ideas, votes, or comments here, but on this site we know what they should be doing with their time. We reserve the right to make the final decision about what they damn well should be building. We’ve spent absolutely no time in substantive debate of ideas so we’re looking for new impractical ideas now.

So, what ideas have been generated? First, the ideas from everyone but me:

  • Diss-Bot. Guided by the dissertation proposal you crafted 5 years ago, this AI tool rapidly assembles all the random paragraphs and tortured sentences that you’ve painstakingly created across numerous drafts and yet can’t quite piece together. Within hours, Diss-Bot turns your scattered fragments into pages of machine-polished, embargo-worthy academic prose! All of which frees you for important tasks like following #owot live on Twitter.
  • Embar-gone. Perhaps you’ve embargoed your dissertation, but you still have a nagging feeling that your publishability is being sabotaged by extant copies in circulation? Using the amazing power of MS Word’s Visual Basic for Applications, Embar-gone programs extant copies of your dissertation to self-destruct at a pre-specified time. Text will be replaced by Markov-chain generated Nora Ephron-like text (see Ephronator below). Now you’ll be published in no time!
  • Fantasy Faculty League Platform. Players draft faculty members and then have regular competitions based on stats derived from RateMyProfessor, WebOfScience, and Amazon.
  • Feline distraction device. Computer-controlled device which, when turned on, activates a feline-distracting remote device to get the cat off of your desk/hands so you can keep working.
  • Internet refrigerator. The internet fridge is a go to example for how the idea of “smart” devices can fail us. It would be fun to see something that plays with the idea of the smart fridge to remind us of the limitations of tools and hacks.

And the list of absurdities from me (with some inspired by images on the #owot Twitter stream, so if it looks like an in-joke, it probably is):

  • BardSnarkAdd Shakespearean insults to your MS reviews. Markov-chain editor that inserts random draws from the Shakespeare Insult Kit into manuscript reviews.
  • Snack Positioning System. Waze-like social networking app that aggregates social knowledge about snack locations to the entire world.
  • Hippostrich. Chimera that can charge you at a full run while keeping its head in the sand. In that way, it’s sometimes like radio talk-show hosts.
  • Cron(ut)-Bot. Automatically dips your morning pastry of choice into your morning beverage of choice. Will also tweet about it and set up server batch processes timed to the dipping.
  • Semiotician X. Not sure what gang sign to flash at the next humanities conference? Semiotician X will show you the cool kids’ latest moves, modeling and allowing you to practice before the Big Paper Session.
  • Ephronator: Rom-Com Markov Chain Editor. Worried that your paper on leukocyte acidification is likely to put reviewers to sleep? Run it through the Ephronator, which will automagically insert smart, funny comments on life and romance into your paper.
  • Sorkinator: Banter Markov Chain Editor. Add some classic walk-and- to that chalk-and-talk lecture, turning your classes into compressed perfect-dialog minuets of an hour. Your classes will hang on your every word.
  • Whedonator: Nerdtastic Markov Chain Editor. Sad that your own advisor fell asleep reading the eighth chapter of your postmodern magnum opus? Run those early chapters through the Whedonator to add fantastical beings and hard-to-believe stories about how Hayden White swore in Chinese and was filmed slinging daggers into demons hearts while living in Joss Whedon’s black-and-white L.A. mansion.
  • Ikupasuy-Bot. Motorized attachment to smartphones that will lift your moustache during an audiobook, so that it looks like you’re reading the book aloud.
  • Grad Student Mailroom Time Machine. Who cares about hot-tub time machines? You can’t find the pool chemicals in the Triassic anyhow. We want a grad-student or academic-librarian mailroom time machine, because we know grad students and librarians squirrel away essential survival materials in mailroom fridges, cubbies, and desk nooks and crannies.
  • Antidisendevirtualizer. Takes image. Antidisendevirtualizes it. Warning: Bayesian prediction of atmospheric conditions and other safety precautions required. In North Carolina, prohibited by law from putting in the back of a deep wardrobe.
  • Feline Nuclear Football (trigger device). Skeuomorphic button shaped like a mouse for your tabby to control your military’s nuclear weaponry. Your military is no longer on hair-trigger alert. Call it “whisker-trigger.” And hurry up with the catnip!
  • Teddy Golem. Just write אמת on this cute little teddy bear’s forehead, and it will turn into a raving maniac first destroying all threats to your household and community and then starting to destroy everything. But first pausing to have a nice picnic in the woods.

And now, we wait for later today for the unveiling of the real tool.

Update: And here it is, the Serendip-o-matic!

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