What It Does
SIBOR is a general-purpose, cybermagical servitor—a servitron—whose countenance is inspired by luminous anomalies and arcane artifacts such as the Loc-Nar from Heavy Metal. The minimalist design also emphasizes how simple animations can suggest intentionality. SIBOR’s personality is inspired by Bit from Tron.
SIBOR is capable of three operations:
- Charge — SIBOR is “charged” with magical “energy” by concentrating on its sigil while projecting ætheric energy at it
- Enchant — SIBOR responds to sigils you draw and submit to it for “analysis”
- Divine — SIBOR can respond “yes” or “no” to polar questions
There are two builds of SIBOR. Mk II adds a physical touch devices to enhance the charge operation.
How It Works
Before I get into SIBOR’s nuts and bolts, I want to take a moment to explain some basic servitronic theory.
In his book, Psybermagick, Carroll gives the formula for a “general purpose cybermorph,”1 based on his earlier magical formulæ,2 which were later updated and simplified.3 What these altogether say is essentially:
- Magic is the ability to (weirdly) alter probability.
- Magical power is the product of (g) the sorcerer’s altered state of consciousness; (l) her magical link to her target or goal; (s) the degree to which she is able to trick her conscious mind into not thinking about her goal; and (b) her belief in the efficacy of magic.
- “By profound effort of ritual,” the sorcerer can effectively transfer g, s, and b to “a named semi-autonomous sentience,” which then needs only an adequate l[ink] in order to work magic on the sorcerer’s behalf.
Such is Carroll’s theory in nuce, and Chaos servitors that are not explicitly modeled on it tend to tacitly concur with it. Combined with computer technology, Carroll’s eidolonics (from eidolon [εἴδωλον], “figure, representation,” whence idol) may inspire a vast array of servitronic designs of which SIBOR is but one exemplar.
When the charge operation is selected, SIBOR switches the stage backdrop to show SIBOR’s sigil, then broadcasts the message
ghost that tells the
Body sprite to fade in and out. The
Text sprite also changes its costume to display the charging instructions. The charging is (arbitrarily) complete when the
Body sprite has faded in and out five times. The stage then broadcasts
confirmCharge, which just tells
Text to change to the costume that says, “CHARGING COMPLETE,” before the
dance broadcasts, telling the
Body to move in a little star shape, and the
Text sprite to switch to a costume that says, “AH, THAT FEELS BETTER!”
The enchant operation uses Scratch’s pen feature to let the technomancer draw a sigil on the screen with her finger, stylus, or mouse, using. After drawing, the
analyzeSigil script performs some sleight of mind, drawing a series of black lines horizontally across the screen to give the appearance that the sigil is being processed by SIBOR.
SIBOR’s divination operation uses a unique (among other Technomancy 101 projects) means of selecting a response: when the query is submitted, SIBOR checks the current value of the timer block and if that is evenly divisible by two (using a () mod () block)—i.e., the number is even—then SIBOR responds ‘yes’, otherwise it responds ‘no’. The ‘yes’ and ‘no’ responses are communicated by animations of SIBOR nodding up-and-down or shaking back-and-forth.
SIBOR-II (download or preview online) is served by a Vital Energy Accumulator (sounds more busy than a mere “receiver”) that collects ætheric energy projected out of operator’s hands, and stores it to power SIBOR. The accumulator is made to be connected to Makey Makey GO, but it would be easy to modify the design for Makey Makey Classic (you would need to cut the metal panel into two halves and leave some space between them, then connect one half to SPACE and the other to EARTH), or if you have a PicboBoard, you could make a pair of accumulators and detect the resistance change when you touch them both simultaneously.
SIBOR-II has two additional sprites that manage the connection to the accumulator and count the quantity of energy accumulated. When the accumulator panel is touched, Makey Makey GO sends a ‘space’ key signal to SIBOR, which is detected by the
Accmltr sprite that responds by donning a costume to show the charge is happening, and setting its
active variable to ‘true’. That variable is sensed by the
ChrgMtr sprite, who increases its own
chargePercent variable by the
chargeRate variable so long as ((
active) of (
Accmltr)) = (
true). You can increase or decrease the time required to fully charge SIBOR by editing the
chargeRate variable prior to running the program.
The accumulator I made is essentially just an aluminum shingle connected to Makey Makey through a wire, but there is no need to get fancy. You could do similarly with a cardboard box and aluminum foil or copper tape. Here is a list of materials I used:
- 6″ × 8″ × 1-1/2″ wood art panel
- 5″ × 7″ aluminum shingle
- Tim Holtz Idea-Ology Foundations Box Feet
- Tim Holtz Idea-Ology Photo Corners Antique Metallic
- isolated panel mount 2.5mm mono jack
- 2.5mm mono plug I had lying around (probably from Radio Shack; this is not the exact one but it would work)
- crocodile test lead (with one end clipped and stripped for attaching to the mono plug)
- Varathane premium fast dry wood stain, provincial color
- Mars black paint
- 5mm copper tape
- conductive thread
- a common nail
- four escutcheon pins
First I drilled a starter hole for the nail in the center of the 6″ × 8″ panel; a hole in the side of the panel for the jack to fit into; eight holes in the underside of the panel, to attach the feet with screws; and then I taped the shingle to the panel and drilled small holes through both to nail the escutcheon pins into. I sanded the panel then stained and painted it. I affixed the copper tape around the edge, and then attached all the hardware.
Typically with a DC-power or mono-audio connector, you must wire a positive (“live”) wire to the tip and a ground wire to the sleeve, but in this case I just need all the metal parts to touch each other and make a conductive path to the Makey Makey GO, so I wired the crocodile clip’s lead to both the tip and sleeve of the plug, and added some hot glue to keep it in place before attaching the housing.
To make the path from the jack to the nail I just used a length of conductive thread (and taped the excess to the inside of the panel in case I need it for anything later), but wire or any other conductive medium would have sufficed. The complete path of electrical conductivity is hand → aluminum shingle → nail → thread → mono jack → mono plug → wire → crocodile clip → Makey Makey GO → computer running Scratch.
Make It Better
There are countless ways you could improve on SIBOR’s basic design, even using techniques from other Technomancy 101 projects. Following are a few suggestions.
- Make SIBOR’s sigil in conductive paint and edit the program so it only runs when the sigil is connected to the computer.
- Add a metal panel or coil to use as a magical link input.
- Make a physical body for SIBOR using an LED and a globe of frosted glass (to diffuse the LED’s light).
- Expand the range of divination responses.
- Store SIBOR’s energy level as cloud data. Edit the program so that enchanting and divining deplete SIBOR’s energy.
- Use the Scratch Twitter experimental extension to send commands or data to SIBOR from another machine via Twitter. E.g., you might send SIBOR statements that it automatically sigilizes and enchants using techniques similar to those implemented in SigilPen.