About a year ago I was in a great programming class – actually, the only programming class I’ve taken at Emerson. (Because unfortunately there aren’t really any.) Anyway, the course was based around Processing, a language I had played with in its very early releases and then forgotten. It came back to me pretty quickly and I had a lot of fun with it, I recommend it to anyone who wants to learn any programming language, Processing is a great introduction. So I was really getting into 4chan at the time, and I don’t mean like becoming a /b/tard, but rather as a lurker who found the whole idea of 4chan extremely intellectually stimulating. I had read about a lot of new media nonsense surrounding the postmodern world of networked communities, but none of it ever added up to any kind of implementation or true examination. Just theory. Lots of dry theory.

Nobody likes dry theory. Of course, long-winded and wordy examinations of neat possibilities and social consequences of make-believe entities are very important to the academic and critical continuance of the medium… but not to its excitement and life. The internet is a living organism, and professors examine it as if it’s a robot, a construct. They see the bones but not the skin. So I wrote about it in my Digital Media Studies class, which turned out to be I Can Has Rezearch Papar?, and I was happy for a minute, and it’s still gaining some attention. However, it’s hard to make people take LOLCats seriously, or critically examine the branching fad-narratives of YTMND. I’m continuing to try to do a lot of this myself, but it’s all in my spare time.

ANYWAY: Back to 4chan image scrubber. I liked 4chan, I wrote the paper, I was in a Processing class. Naturally what came out for a final project was something meant to be at once devious and enlightening: a program that data-mines 4chan’s /b/ board and bombards the user with its images. It was great, an instant hit. And that was it. I came back to it every once in awhile and made it more efficient: the first version relied upon a PHP script to data-mine and return a list of images. I moved that to the Processing project itself.

Data mining using regular expressions is great. This Processing sketch was my first forray into its usage, and since then regular expressions have helped me create other neat projects like the Lab Statistics and Information Division.

Now I’m currently working on an iPhone version for my Cellphone Art class, which instead of making a collage of /b/ images, it will rapidly load one image on top of the next. It uses much the same functionality as the Processing sketch, but ported to Objective-C, which was a good exercise in itself. Now I’m focusing on doing adequate garbage collection for both the Processing and iPhone versions.