Dit-Dah

In the first half of 2020, our worlds had been divided. Everyone around the world had been made to live in their own bubbles, with little interaction with others. Xenophobia had been on the rise and was of increasing concern during times of COVID-19. Staying connected with one another and maintaining some privacy were important considerations in the concept design.

Dit-Dah is a multi-player cryptic chat interface and postcard authoring tool. Dit-Dah makes use of ‘morse’, an old radio-based form of code. The brief was to design and build a multiplayer experience: a way to send messages. The team used a friendly JavaScript-based environment for interactive art called p5.js to code and bridge communication between people in a way that was playful and encouraged curiosity to learn a new language.

The team designed an interface to receive the English language text input to morse code visual output on a digital canvas. Variants of the program included options to connect people in different ways, such as real-time multi-player (chat) and slow, bi-lateral correspondence (postcard). To seek further inclusion, the team considered the potential of using brail for printed postcards and sonorous output for the morse-based chat. The code developed and used for this project may be made open source with potential adaptations yet unknown.

The concept was inspired by the life story of Alan Turing whose work as a cryptanalyst shaped the outcome of World War II. In spite of being considered a war hero, Alan Turing was persecuted by his own government due to his sexual orientation. The 2-week course briefly featured Alan Turing in the history of coding, and incidentally, the course took place around the international day for homo/ transphobia.