I got the idea to reformat DS106 assignment instructions. Here are the audio assignment instructions in alliterative verse.
It occurs to me that I maybe should explain how this came to be. I’m in the midst of reading Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings to my oldest child, and we got to Book V, Chapter 3 last night, which contains examples of Tolkien’s modern English alliterative verse. This morning ,in the madly creative spirit of DS106, I got it into my head to do something in this form, but what?
My first thought was some sort of technical tutorial, and I even tweeted seeking suitable material. I worried that trying to poetically render things like “mouse click” and “command line option” might be nearly impossible and create something forced.
Then I considered some iconic quotation. Donald Rumsfeld’s “Known knowns…..” seemed too short. I then considered the Gettysburg Address. It was too iconic, and the Lincoln was from an era when rhetorical alliteration was part and parcel.
Whose words would work? At last it was obvious — Jim Groom.
Looking at the Audio Assignment instructions, I made the decision right away that I’d post audio rather than text, since I was working within an oral tradition, even though I wrote it out.
The trickiest part was the hard data. I decided it wasn’t really a challenge if one was allowed to transform the instructions into something unrecognizable. I laid down another ground rule. Whatever I ended up with still had to be usable as instructions.
With this constraint, there were two tricky spots. One was handling dates and times. Although one could say five o’ clock or March 11, it didn’t seem to fit the style. Dates ended up being trickier than times. I considered using ancient Roman convention and putting dates in terms of days before the Ides, but it seemed to not mesh with the Germanic origins of the form.
I actually settled on two different solutions. One was to return to the church calendar. Today is, fortunately, St. Mathias’s Day. Unfortunately, it couldn’t find a church feast for the final deadline on March 11. I thought briefly about making it “six days before the feast of St. Patrick”, since the date is well known.
Then I thought of something else. Lunar cycles. Tolkien used this timekeeping mechanism in the chapter I was reading last night. So it was off to search for full moon dates for Fredericksburg. Add that to things I never imagined I’d be looking up. That led to ….”the full moon filleth the land with light”.
The other thing I worried about was the specific instructions for filenames. Thankfully the inclusion of the group names in the filename led to epithets. It’s very much within the style to refer to a person by several names given to them (terror of enemies, gift giver, etc.) sometimes consecutively. So of course epithets had to be found for Jim and Martha.
Usually the epithet was given by someone else rather than being self claimed. So it was off to Jim and Martha’s blog to research. Jim has handy testimonials on his front page. so he became “Internet Midas” as well as his usual Reverend.
I don’t know Martha nearly as well, but her blog mentioned her kids (Martha the Mother) and her VW van (Moby’s great Mistress). Finding the epithets was probably the most fun.
I need to make one correction. I said “from Richmond a day’s march distant”. The sixty miles from Richmond to Fredericksburg is probably at the absolute limit of what someone could march,so it should have been “a day’s ride distant.”