A more playful algorithmic walk 🚶


For the first week of class we tried out the LOGO programming language and created short scripts for the turtle to draw by following simple directions (turn right 30 degrees, go forward 90 spaces, turn left 45 degrees, back up 3 spaces, etc). Afterwards we composed our own instructions for taking an algorithmic walk. Like human manifestations of the LOGO turtles, we wrote out instructions for motion. My own walks, detailed in an earlier post, were okay I thought. I took a walk, saw some new places, took some photos, and experienced some of the limitations of humans (we're subjective! we're error-prone!), the limitations of algorithms (too literal! too brittle!). But I also asked folks to try out other people's directions. And I'm glad I did. I can now see my own instructions were too boring! I was approaching my directions all wrong: trying to craft something closer to machine pseudocode. When other students started posting their walks, I noticed some that intrigued me for taking advantage of the fact that we're human.

So for my 3rd algorithmic walk, I tried out brckmnt0's instructions. There were a few things that drew me to it. I liked the use of a die roll. My own "choose an empty path" and second "choose an interesting-looking direction" both failed to inspire. The pure die roll seemed worth a try. The next thing I noticed was the elaborate set of directions. There was a small loop of a few directions in the beginning. There was the use of music as a motivator and as a form of randomness. There were also a number of *random events* that could happen that would alter the walk if dogs barked, certain car colors passed, etc.

brckmnt0's walk

Start by going right
At the first intersection you reach, roll a dice: 1,2=left 3,4=right 5,6=straight (or low #s=left: high#s=right if straight is not an option) 
Shuffle your music and walk until the first song stops
If you reach the end of the road before the song ends, heads=right tails=left 
Walk to the you reach the next intersection. Repeat step 2
Shuffle music 3 times, use that song for the next walking period
At the next intersection, decide whatever way you want to go
Walk the amount of blocks of the grey cars in your eyesight
At the next intersection, go the direction that will take you home the fastest
At the next intersection, call a friend and ask which direction you should go
Play the next two songs on shuffle, if they end before you make it home, start at step 2 again
If you see a red car, turn around and go home
If you see any kids playing in the street, run past them
Skip music anytime you hear a dog bark
Do a jumping jack for every blue car that passes by you (not parked cars)
Turn around if a song begging with Z, Q, or X plays
Jog if a song from the 70s comes on
 If you check the time and it has :57 for the minutes, you can stop
Sing any song from the Skate 3 soundtrack that comes on
Have fun 🙂

I put on Rap Caviar and immediately tried to skip a few times. I was bored of the tracks, so I switched to some ambient jams. I put on my mask and boots, went down the steps, walked out the door and down the alley path to the sidewalk in front of my house. I turned right and about 70 feet later came to an intersection. Time to roll the die. I waited for someone to pass so I wouldn't look insane, then took the die out of my back left pocked and rolled it in hand. 6 red pips. At a 4-way intersection, according to brcmnt0's instructions, that meant continue straight.

I was walking another 2 blocks when the track ended. I hadn't reached the end of the road so didn't need to flip a coin. I walked to the intersection, then repeated step 2 and was already confused on the order, but no matter, I went with it it. I decided a direction, as per instructions, and then after counting grey cars, walked that number of blocks. At some point I had shuffled my music 4 or 5 times and was crossing from one end of the Ditmas Park neighborhood to the other. I was given a choice and made a right. Meanwhile, At the bottom of the instructions I noticed all of these side things I was to pay attention to. I didn't see red cars, kids playing (though I walked past a playground. too cold probably). Nor did I hear a dog bark. However, right at the end of one intersection a blue car pulled up. Time for a jumping jack. It wouldn't alter my course, but it would alter my feeling. I was embarassed, but I did it! At this point I was to call a friend ask the direction to go next. I cheated and texted. I didn't get any immediate response and waited a minute. Nope. So I made my own choice to continue straight. I had already turned to head toward home in the fastest way, and since I had a meeting soon on Zoom, I should probably continue. At this point, I was pretty engaged with the music, checking to see if any track began with the letters cited, and was also on the lookout in a kind of eye-spy for dogs, kids, red cars, blue cars.

I made it home, in pretty good spirits, and with a total walk time of a bit over 30 minutes. I didn't go on any roads that were new for me, but I had a fun playful experience trying out these different forms of randomness. 4 1/2 out of 5. Would algorithmically walk this again!