A couple days ago I installed Tumbarumba. It’s a Firefox add-on that waits for optimal moments to insert a line of text that appears absurd and out of place into your regular web surfing, offering a peculiar kind of secret portal into one of several original short works of fiction. It’s a pretty cool concept, and I like the idea of little disruptive artworks as an insertion into your regular internet consumption. It surprised me that it took so long for me to get a tumbarumba, because when you consider my time spent reading on the internet (I’ve gotten back into The New Yorker) you’d think I’d get tumbarumba-ed left and right.

I really liked the function that makes you click through the tumbarumba a couple sentences before the plugin deposits you on an alternate reality webpage. It was humorous because I got tumbarumba-ed on my doctor’s homepage, and so I was sitting on the website, with the University of Michigan Health System logos at the top and a photograph of the outside of their building, reading a short story about the conversations inanimate objects have. Tumbarumba also interferes with images, it seems. I also like that once you’re tumbarumba-ed, you can go back and read the story again on the add-on’s website.

There is a lot of potential for disruptive storytelling and poetics here. And cool possible applications for ARGs — say after being rabbit holed you need to install a Tumbarumba-esque device into Firefox that will progressively disclose information that might be of importance to solving puzzles. Difficulty might come in getting people to trust this compromise in their browser security, though. I guess I trusted Tumbarumba enough, though.

The possibilities for disruptive poetics interest me, too. I find it interesting that the creators chose to program it with short stories as opposed to poetry. Perhaps there is possibility in overhauling Tumbarumba for use with verse that is not just disruptive but interspersed throughout a webpage. This might be more complex but would probably utilize much of the same program as the original.

Also, I kind of wish they had named it something that was easier to turn into a verb. Tumbarumba-ed is kind of inelegant, but then again, maybe that’s what they’re going for. Textual disruptions are sort of inelegant.

Update: as soon as I went to proofread this entry, I got tumbarumba-ed again!  Great fun.  This time the story took the form of this blog and was broken up into “entries” on the main page.  Sweet.

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