[EROFT week 6] Romancy

Meditation #3 assigned

Invent an “-omancy,” or a form of divination/prophecy based on observing and interpreting natural events. Your reading of “natural” should make some reference to digital/electronic/computational media. (What counts as a “natural event” on the Internet? What’s the electronic equivalent of phrenology, from both a physical computing perspective and a data analysis perspective? Does it count as “interpretation” if it’s being performed by a computer program?) I’m especially interested in responses that take the form of purposefully inaccurate data analysis.

In previous weeks, we have read about how divination practices, specially Cartomancy, have been historically related to foreseeing into one’s love future. Having that in mind, I decided to create a method of divination that partially inverts that logic, analyzing a popular contemporary human mating ritual – one’s performance on Tinder. As a response to the idea of polarization between work and love/sex life, the interpretations give a glance into the querent’s professional future.

The interpretation occurs through this program, in which the user is asked to enter their name and age. The personal information is transformed into ASCII character codes, added together, and every digit of the resulting number is added until there’s only a single digit as a result. This digit is then transformed into its 6 digit binary representation, and presented as a sequence of left (0) and right (1) swipes to be performed on Tinder.

Marcela, 24
[77, 97, 114, 99, 101, 108, 97, 44, 32, 50, 52]
right, right, left, right, right, right

After performing the sequence, the querent should input the number of obtained matches (0-5), so with that information the program will respond with a thought on this person’s professional future. The more matches, the best your future will look. Here are a few responses:


Este slideshow necessita de JavaScript.

It was very interesting to think through the process of what could be a natural event for Tinder, and I was a bit confused by whether creating a sequence was contributing for it to be considered a natural event, or the direct opposite. Still, I believe that it adds a layer of ritualization and discomfort in being stripped from your decision powers, shifting the center from the querent’s interests in the app to a collective view of them through the app’s community, shaped by a stroke of chance or fortune.

The most difficult part of this assignment was creating the interpretations, for creating ones that are at the same time diverse, relatable and interesting is a very intense job.  I still feel like they are not the best, but I certainly enjoyed the way that I got to connect both good and bad interpretations with the use of common vocabulary, and by placing same expressions in different contexts using Tracery.

Link to code.

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