Interactive Frank An interactive audio montage

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Interactive Frank

Joe Frank

  • “Critically acclaimed broadcaster and performance artist …”

  • “a master of the dark, humorous and absurd”

  • Shows aired on WFMU and NPR

  • Series of fictitious narrative monologues, dramas, "real life" phone conversations, and often all of the above

  • My inspiration for author model

Charles Marks

  • Old grumpy artist

  • Ex-girlfriend’s grandfather

  • Loved to talk about his past

  • Could spout off loosely related anecdotes for hours on end, with minimal input

  • Perfect model for interactivizing Joe Frank

Make it Interactive?

  • What if the user could guide an Joe Frank-esque audio montage in the same way that I could “guide” my conversations with Mr. Marks?


  • Author – take input from the user and try to make sense of it

  • Actors – communicate with the author and try to say something relevant to the input

    • Lenny –Wikipedia
    • Oswald - LiveJournal
  • DJ (and daemon) – communicate with author and try to play a song from your hard drive that matches the overall theme of the input

Technical Details

  • Google API

  • FreeTTS (text-to-speech)

    • Not so good, but you can set pitch, WPM, style, and its free
  • MP3s on your hard drive

  • ID3 Tags (blinkenlights) w/help from

  • (especially Moby Thesaurus)

  • Wikipedia

  • LiveJournal RSS

The Interface

  • Accepts input from user

  • Currently works only with single adjectives

  • Eventually, I would like it to accept sentences, and do some sort of simple analysis of what words are “important”

  • eg: surreal, uplifting, horrible, sublime, etc.


  • When you start up the program, the DJ begins searching your hard drive.

  • When it encounters an MP3, it checks the ID3 tags

  • DJ keeps track of Artists with lists of “moods”, and songs by that artist

  • Moods are expanded using thesaurus


  • When you enter a word, a “theme” is constructed.

  • The Theme consults and retrieves synonyms

  • When there is more than one valid theme, the Author goes to work

  • The themes are the primary narrative guide

The Author

  • The Author analyzes the Themes created by the user

  • Whenever there is an intersection between two themes, we have encountered something important (a focus)

  • These foci are what is handed to the DJ and the Actors as “inspiration”

The Actors

  • When the themes have been analyzed, the results are fed to the Actors

  • The Actors then take turns reading a line

  • The have different sources and different ways of gathering material


  • Lenny here loves to drop science

  • His body of knowledge comes from the WikiPedia

  • He finds an article that has something to do with the foci and reads a sentence from it


  • Oswald is into drama

  • He reads from LiveJournal


  • Authors can be added

  • I had to get rid of Fitz (my original character) –he couldn’t get his act together

  • Eventually, the authors will have values that will determine when they will say a line.

The DJ

  • The DJ is also taking cues from the Author

  • He is going through his list of Artists, comparing the “moods” against the foci that the Author has determined

  • Once he has found the artist that best matches the themes, he begins to play a song.

  • The process starts over when the song has ended

Is it Narrative?

  • No

  • The result is a disjointed series of sentences, not nearly as cohesive as I want it to be

  • What could make it narrative?

    • Themes should be influenced by previous input
    • Use n-grams
    • GoogleAPI should allow more than 1000 queries a day

Then what’s the point?

  • I thought that the DJ was remarkable effective.

  • Each song he chose was very accurate

  • The dialogue was often very entertaining

  • I could often fill in the blanks of the dialogue and come up with a cohesive narrative of my own

  • With more work, it could definitely get better

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