Commonplace blackout poetry: Discerning patterns of thinking through the information I write down.

Timeline: February 2020 – April 2020

Tools: HTML, CSS, JavaScript, JQuery

Skills: Interaction design -> front end web development

What is a commonplace book?

A commonplace book is a central depository for quotes, anecdotes, observations, and information gleaned from books, conversations, movies, lyrics, social media posts, podcasts, experiences, etc. Commonplace books have been kept from antiquity, and were kept particularly during the Renaissance and the 19th century.

Why create a blackout poem using my commonplace entries?

I’ve had the habit of keeping a commonplace book for over five years. At the beginning of the Covid–19 pandemic, I made an effort to curate my commonplace entries to reflect my experience as a student during a global lockdown. I found that poetry was something I could turn to for comfort, and was creating blackout poetry from books, newspapers, and magazines I had on hand. I wanted to challenge myself, however, by creating a blackout poem using content from my own curated depository – my commonplace book.

Why digitize my commonplace blackout poem?

Two reasons:

1. This blackout poem is reflective of my experience as a student navigating a global pandemic. This digital poem serves as an archive to help those from the future better understand this specific moment in time.

2. I started noticing patterns in the types of things I was choosing to write down and wanted to further analyze my commonplace entries to learn more about my thought process during these unprecedented times. I wondered why was I writing down what I was writing down? What specific emotions did my entries evoke?

I would be able to more easily locate answers to my questions if I digitized my entries than if I were to simply look at my physical book (which is filled with doodles and rather hard to interpret). I used JavaScript arrays, functions, and filters to create my commonplace blackout poem interface, and color coded my excerpts based on four different emotions evoked: nostalgia, optimism, humor, and sadness. A user would be would be able to highlight to uncover the text beneath the blacked out entries, or filter entries by emotion.

Interact with the interface!

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