Description (in English): 

Poetracking is a work of digital literature created by three students respectively studying graphic design, digital technologies and journalism. It was developed during the Erasmus intensive program “Digital Literature” organised by Philippe Bootz and held in Madrid in 2014. Poetracking's homepage encourages you to draw a tree within the interface by using a simple drawing software, providing built-in tools such as colour and line width. Shortly after your drawing is finished, a poem appears on the screen. Then, after a while, the poem disappears and you are redirected to a database in which all previous drawings and poems are stored, including your newly generated poem. As innocent and simple as it may look, this project draws in fact from the Baum personality test (sometimes called tree test) created by psychoanalyst Charles Koch, which is meant to bring out a patient's main personality traits and emotions by analysing the way he or she represents a tree on a sheet of paper. By closely examining the drawing, its shape, its position on the white blank space, its colours and the thickness of its lines, as well as some characteristic elements of the tree itself, the psychologist is able to get information on the patient's behaviour and his/her relationship with others. For instance, small trunks symbolize introversion and low self-esteem, while large trunks imply strength, higher self-esteem and vitality. In several respects, however, Poetracking misappropriates the original Baum test. By not providing any context or explanation, it twists the actions of the user who unknowingly generates a poem based on the analysis of his/her personality. This result is generated by simultaneously comparing the three tools that have been used (colours, line width and position on the page), all of which are linked to keywords through a combinatory process. But the profiling process no longer is accurate, since the Baum test parameters are reduced to three only. Since the parameters are oversimplified, the Baum test ends up misappropriated and much more minimalistic in the way data is treated, since the drawing is no longer analysed and interpreted extensively. Therefore, the profile given to the patient is reduced to just a few keywords. By highlighting the weaknesses of the Baum test, Poetracking was designed to point out how subjective it can be. By keeping all previously generated profiles in a database and making them available to all users, Poetracking also aims at denouncing tracking systems which analyse our tastes and preferences and try profiling every aspect of our life while we're browsing the internet or using our smartphone. The software is unable to completely track the user's intentions, which gives it another dimension: he or she could decide to ignore the rules and draw anything but a tree, thus being free to experiment with the software and bring out all its poetic potential.

Screen shots: 
Cover screen of Poetracking
A tree drawn by a reader with the generated poem superimposed upon it.
A selection of trees with poems.
The permanent URL of this page: 
Record posted by: 
Jill Walker Rettberg