Public Media Scan: Secret Messages

Image of a music box playing a melody based on cross-stitch patterns

Confession: This week’s Scan was entirely about things that charmed me. It felt like I was getting away with something.

Most weeks, the list is a mix of charming projects, very smart ideas (sometimes charming, sometimes not), and cool tech that might lead journalism somewhere.

But this week?

I was caught by the image of journalists diving into Ukrainian lake water to haul out government secrets, and the idea of listening to cross-stich patterns. Music is math, cross-stitch is math — and now my imagination is off and running, wondering what the prelude to Bach’s “Cello Suite No. 1” would look like on a sampler.

Often, the worst part of writing and editing is killing off angles that branch away from the story we need to tell. Tory Hoke’s list of interactive fiction projects, and her explanation of how the tech to support them has matured, made me think of all of the ways a nonfiction story can branch and be remixed, and how much I’d like to read, watch, or listen to those stories.

Take a look. See if you’re charmed, too:


Drowned Documents. More than 23,000 government documents were dumped in a Ukrainian lake. YanukovychLeaks brought them back to the surface. 

My Father’s Long, Long Legs. Coder/artist/writer Tory Hoke argues that interactive fiction lets writers unfold stories in infinite ways. Why don’t more journalists use this idea? 

Sampling a Sampler. Hungarian designer Zsanett Szirmay translated traditional cross-stitch patterns for a punch-card music player. She found melodies.  

As always, if you spot (or make) a great project at the intersection of tech, media and storymaking art, email the details to me at so I can check it out for an upcoming edition of the Scan. You can peruse our archive here. 
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