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Rohit Gupta, 6 Nov 04

The Problem:
Trying to bring people together to think about issues. On a nice, sunny sunday.

The Social Software:
OrganicPoetry is a game for social transformation by bringing people together in a collaborative manner. While based on ideas in game theory, conflict resolution, social networking and control theory, the game is extremely simple, because the players make up the rules as they play.

It can be played by two or more people, but as the scale of participation changes, so must the rules. Also, new players can join in the game at any point, since there is really no fixed cycle it follows.

The basic idea is similar to Scrabble, however, in this case the players do not link letters together in a matrix to form words. In OrganicPoetry, different players add words from their vocabulary to string them in a network of sentences. You could do this in a two-dimensional or three dimensional matrix.

How to Play OrganicPoetry

1. Define The Canvas :It starts with two people, who could be sitting in a living room, a bar, or two people standing in a public square. The first thing you need to do is define your canvas. The canvas on which you are going to play this game - it could be a huge sheet of paper, a blank wall in some neighbourhood, or the body of a nude model. It can also be played on a Wiki-style platform on the Internet. You decide.

2. What's your issue? : You could be playing this game for harmless fun, or social change. If you're playing it for fun, then just go ahead, do what you want. If you're doing it for social change, here's a suggestion.

3: The Seed : In the centre of the canvas, which is the universe of this evolving game (the bigger the better) write down one single word and encircle it (or don't). The word can be anything from which the OrganicPoem will begin. (Last weekend, the author used the word "ALTHOUGH" in a three-player game and generated new networks of poetic sentences for over two hours.)

4. The Forks: Every word, starting with the first one, must now have two or more arrows jutting out of it, in any direction. Start with two to avoid large complexity at an early stage of the game.

5: Growing The Tree: Now each player tries to add a word on one or more forks, so that the two words in a string make two sentences, like a hyperlinked web. Soon the possible number of sentences will start looking like something like this, a lot of incomplete sentences strung into each other:

Although life has no meaning.. Although clutched in the certainty, Although life resembles..

6: What You Will Leave Behind: Imagine walking down a street and discovering a wall which has a network of words on it, words that can be read in many different routes by following a path in the network. How many hours would you spend just trying to discover new sensible links in such a document?

Summary: A powerful tool, OrganicPoetry can be used in political advocacy, and in bringing people and communities together for a cause, to seduce your lover, or just to have some non-competitive fun at a party.

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This is very similar to a poetic device I came up with in High School- based on the same basic theories, though with a much less sophisticated grasp on them.

Instead of single words, I would string together poetic phrases, connecting them into a network which I termed a Poetry Food Web.

Posted by: t3knomanser on 6 Nov 04

Very interesting idea! I'll try to set up a wiki on my web server tonight and try it with a friend or two.

Posted by: nile on 6 Nov 04

This sounds like a Glass Bead game!

I've linked to it from the Playable Variants page:

Posted by: Lion Kimbro on 6 Nov 04

Can't wait to word-party with you in person, Rohit!

Posted by: Alex Steffen on 8 Nov 04



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