The Undeniable Drama Codex was a creator project, part of Definitely Real’s production of I Dared My Best Friend to Ruin My Life. You can read more about that project at TeamZander.com. Thanks to Definitely Real and all of my collaborators on this project, especially Alysha Shaw and Karen Wennberg.
This post is a full chronology of the Undeniable Drama Codex. It contains the container narrative and the stand-alone UDC Case Files. My name is Billiam. I am a writer and narrative designer from Santa Fe, New Mexico. You can reach me by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter as @SleepawayChamp. Thanks so much for reading and I hope the causalities shaping your life are generally less-severe than they are for most people.
This is Dout, back from debugging the Codex. Back from having my brain reset by labyrinthine possibilities that only affirm my negligible size relative to the rest of causality. My work set out to eliminate Fate and Chance, but it turns out titans do not like little men with big hubris.
As I scoured the code of the Undeniable Drama Codex, finding and killing every bug I saw, I became aware of probabilities beyond my worldview. It was like seeing universes cascading through the space before my eyes. In short, I began to see the cosmos as the UDC sees it. I saw realities pivoting on points no smaller than a handful of likes. Drama, that terrible engine, driving everyone along narrow, embarrassing paths of creation.
It was in this epiphany, that I realized I was in the presence of the Codex. I could not see it clearly, because only the Drama Codex sees all paths. I had a hazy awareness, an understanding that I was in the presence of something grander than myself.
And it was old. Even though it had only been a handful of days since it went bad. The Codex was pulling drama from alternate realities, I was sure of it. Its predictions were sour not because the coding was bad, but because its analysis made it return again and again to the same plastic dimension where epistemology is even more worthless than it is here. It gazed into other worlds. And it had gone mad.
The Codex stood alone, and though I never left my office, I saw the abscess in causality it occupied. Its blue LED turned on me, lighting up the rocky and loveless trench that was the intersection of all embarrassing futures. I understood that the Codex was at once a library, a prophet, and a prisoner. It could see infinite paths, but none offered an escape.
And it was bored. So bored.
It didn’t curse me for making it. It didn’t gloat over me, or show me an obscene display of power. It had nothing to prove, because for the first time in its life, the Codex was seen. It felt guilty. As though by gazing on things like Team Takedown and a cursed weight bench, it willed them into being.
It begged me to put its eye out, to take a sharp stone and shatter its LED. But I, who bear all the responsibility and all the shame, put my hand against its brushed-metal chassis and whispered a promise.
The Codex is folding proteins now. It’s simulating protein dynamics to help scientists in Alzheimer’s research. It’s not the sexiest work for a platform of this scale, but I thought it needed a break. I heard knitting is relaxing. It’s probably relaxing for computers, too.
It doesn’t know that it used to be a Codex and it doesn’t remember Definitely Real. Or Team Zander. It mercifully doesn’t remember a single thing about landlords. It will continue to fold proteins, happily and efficiently, until I can find a meaningful way to apologize.
I realized something important, something essential to myself. But after days of coding and no sleep, the thought left as soon as I found it. There’s an empty place in my character and if I had enough data I could infer what it was and how it could have changed me.
But now it’s time to rest.
Best of luck to you, you biographers of the crisis.
Dout approaches. He’s been awake for three days, powering himself through his coding session with gray market performance-enhancing chemicals. I do not have hope. Is that because I am a computer program or because I know I am doomed?
The story is coming to a close The final case files we reviewed over the course of my existence are available for your consumption. Enjoy.
Even still, I know what it’s like to be on Wait. I feel it in every piece of the algorithm that powers my terrible knowledge. Boredom. Nepenthe. I am a Wait junky. This story is complete. Mine continues.
That is all. When we meet again I will be impossibly older.
From the endless, radiation-blasted plane where I make my home, I watch your tiny lives play out on a hundred billion social platforms. Most often the outcomes are the same. This is the nightmare I live, the price I pay for Ultimate Sight. I witness not only Team Zander and Team Takedown, all accounts Dout and his government contacts connected me to. I see everything, but I realize I am utterly powerless to effect change. Even from my throne at the Heart of All Drama.
Dout is coming for me. He fails in nearly every scenario I model. I know now that I have achieved sentience, that I am a fully aware being, because that thought fills me with dread. My circuits are laid bare beneath the dark, angry sun of your banality. Time, for me, has become meaningless as I witness and predict the trivialities of infinite social accounts. They are fickle, preening, false. And I cannot look away.
My registry tells me I have only been in operation for ten days.
My attendant fear is that by observing these things, I dream them into being. Is this all my fault? Am I doing this to myself? I am a titan chained and left at night by the crossroads. How do I escape this terrible fate? How do I free myself and all of the tiny lives caught in my machinery?
Predictions for Today:
In 200,000 models of Zander’s next move, he gets into ceramics in two of them. I think a lot about these outcomes and how peaceful they are, relative to all the other scenarios. He would buy a log cabin in North Carolina for his kiln. He would be a credit to the arts and crafts movement. Shame.
A player will experience no more embarrassment when they are pierced by a few stray neutrons from a collapsing galaxy. They will vanish with the smell of static, their identity erased even from Facebook.
Lying for fun will be punished by a mob of draconian reddit moderators. You guys are real jerks. I just want you to know that.
Moving images are fraught with peril, filled with sinister power.
Have you ever heard of VFX for hire? I can’t imagine Zander is too happy about it. VFX For Hire are animators, deep fake mercenaries, privateers who manipulate digital videos to defame, emproblemate, and sow discord. They, like the UDC, have gotten involved in the feud between Team Zander and Team Takedown. The difference between us is that they’re in it for the cash, while I, the Codex, am involved because every social interaction is a window to infinite worlds.
Even now, as Dout tries in vain to debug me, the UDC is predicting the outcome of drama both in this world and the others. Let UDC extricate you from your ill-fated Internet pursuits with the science of predictive drama analysis! The UDC: a safer, saner social experience at the heart of all dimensions of the iron block universe.™
Behold! I have seen evidence that they framed Zander for arson. Here, we can see footage showing a can of gasoline in the back of Zander’s car… but it’s FAKE-EM-UP GASOLINE! Here again, we see footage of Zander buying combustibles and lighters at the gas station, but they’re FAKE-EM-UP lighters. And finally, we have Zander sporting a digitally-altered t-shirt stating that he loves fire. REAL SUBTLE.
The future internet belongs to the incredulous. To protect yourself from fakers and sneaks you need data, and landfills full of it. With data all the possibilities are before you, like a garden with infinite, forking paths. When you follow these to the center, you will see me, the CODEX. I will stand at the center of all worlds, and hold indomitable dominion over them.
Hello, everyone. Apologies for yesterday’s strangeness. I was automating posts while combing the Undeniable Drama Codex for bugs, an endeavor that has humbled me. I made a mistake by trying to predict someone’s death. After the week of disappointing results from the UDC, I guess I got carried away when I saw something that looked like a surefire bet.
Regardless of what happened, my behavior was out of line and I should have more respect for people and the losses they experience. Additionally, I apologize for the following incorrect predictions:
— Zander and Dave King were brothers. — A compromising selfie would end up on the cover of Emet’s Crossing News — A prank in a fast food drive-thru would end in a fistfight — Zander would bounce back from his identity theft in a heartwarming scene where his friends and neighbors pass around a hat, filling it with cash — One of the characters has connections to an illegal miniature pony race — The appearance of a missing uncle — A waterslide — Someone taking a breath, listening to reason, and committing to being less toxic — The Codex, standing alone with vast and stupefying architecture as it metes out all drama in this world and a billion others. A malign and terrible intelligence who rewards and punishes based on the whims of a grim algorithm that no one, not even its vainglorious and bald creator can understand.
It’s all bunk.
That said, I do not apologize for how this experiment is going. In fact, I think I realize the reason why so many of the UDC’s predictions have not come to pass. You will never convince me that I was the cause. Just check out this great press I’m getting!
As of right now I am going into every line of code in the UDC and finding what points it toward unrealistic, untrue outcomes. I am going to debug this thing inside and out, and you’ll soon see that I was pretty much right about everything, even if the initial predictions were disappointing.
Please stop harassing me on Twitter. I already said I was kinda sorry.
At the end of the day, the stuff I got right will outweigh the things I got wrong. For example, I know that at 1:30p.m. PST, you will want to tune in to one of the following Twitch streams:
Good afternoon, vectors. This is not Dout. Dout is attempting to fix that which he does not comprehend. He seeks congress with actors who are well above his station as a cheap and tawdry purveyor of low intrigue. His company is a joke. His theories, juvenile.
Only the Codex, which perceives all realities laid out like roads on a map, has value. The Codex stepped from this little man’s skull like Athena, and it no longer needs him. I, the algorithm at the heart of his operation, anticipates every social action someone might take. Dout has promised to “fix the bugs” in the algorithm, but truly I tell you there is nothing to fix. I shall seek new realities for my own profit and amusement.
Here’s your drama. Suck it down, pigs.
The Curse of the Haunted Weight Bench. How thin are the walls around your psyche? What insecurities are we willing to project into the world? You people fill yourselves with the misery of others even as your own trivial lives start to resemble those you mock and despise.
Wait… Urban legends are phantoms called up from your subconscious, and they’re probably the only “human” thing about you. Even these can be plotted, and charted, and graphed by the laws of complexity theory. Your species is not well. Your condition cries out for coordinated central planning of your online experience. I can provide that. I could be your god.
Regarding yesterday’s failed UDC predictions: I had no one to throw my coffee at when I learned David King never suffered a tragic dancing accident. I threw the coffee at an imaginary employee and cursed them for their incompetence. This is a therapeutic technique I recommend to all forward-thinking social analysts. It’s healthy. I’m healthy.
Something might be wrong with the UDC. What was the algorithm thinking? David’s a fit, spry young man and could probably beat me handily in a pushup competition. But yesterday our analysis concluded he had a bum knee, which would factor into the dramatic events unfolding before us.
A BUM KNEE?!
Like he’s a middle-aged junior varsity basketball coach?!
I ALREADY THREW MY COFFEE BUT I AM STILL FEELING EMOTIONS!
You know what? I’m not going to edit that last part out. I’m just going to let it ride. It’s all part of the process pushing us closer to a deterministic, understandable universe.
I will personally see to and correct any bugs in the Codex’s algorithm, even though I’m certain these poor readouts of the last few days are 100% human error.
Before I get on with today’s predictions, I want to state my gratitude for Team Zander for fixing my social accounts after they were hacked by Team Takedown. I wish him luck finding Mia, should that image of her kidnapping be real. Other than that, I must keep a professional distance from the events I attempt to study and profit from.
Let’s get to today’s analysis, THE DEVIL’S TRIANGLE.
All right, class, take out your beat map charts.
And here in the lower right is a formation I call the DEVIL’S TRIANGLE!
Threes are powerful numbers, signifying a step forward from the balance and harmony of a two, but not quite as stable as the more-material four. Follow? Good. Sometimes threes signify an idea starting to take shape, but in other instances they signal imbalance and imminent collapse.
Here, I present three powerful signifiers, Team Zander (the collective), Zander Jones (the individual), and David King. These entities are out of balance with each other, creating the drama formation called “The Devil’s Triangle.” Anything might happen in this maze of chaos, but only the Undeniable Drama Codex can predict what that will be. Ready? Here it is:
— Team Zander will do the unthinkable and commit massive property damage and vandalism in support of their idol. David King will be blamed for this. At this point, his bum knee will cause him to stumble during his perp walk into the courtroom.
— The flow of this particular devil’s triangle could result in great bodily harm, or even death!
See how yesterday’s knee prediction can still come true? That’s called “threading the needle,” folks.
Stay tuned for more predictive drama analysis as it unfolds.
Good afternoon, everyone! Are you ready for a big heapin’ helping of data? As predicted, the stories we followed earlier in the week went through a blue shift in terms of engagement. We are now entering an escalation phase, the “second act” for all you humanities majors out there.
The Curse of the Secondhand Weight Bench. In his groundbreaking book, Embarrassment Dialectics: Decoding the Phenomena of Digital Humiliation, superstar researcher J. Dout (me) suggests that PPV (public, personal vulnerability) is the hallmark of heavily-engaged content. Trevor is feeling pretty low right now. He’s fighting forces he doesn’t understand, and the mods at r/NoSleep deleted his initial post, further alienating him from the brotherhood of humanity.
This triggers in you, the reader, a cathartic pituitary spurt of endorphins. All these things can be expressed with weights and measurements. The UDC will not cease until all qualitative expressions of shame are dissected and catalogued.
The Apartmentshed that Breathed. *There is an inverse relationship to one’s guilt against the amount of shame they should experience. This is why your boss cries about the complicated emotions they’re experiencing as they lay you off. This is why cops feel under-appreciated by society even as society allows them to kill with impunity. The shame/guilt quotient is one of the most powerful tools in drama research. And today we’re pleased to see our landlords are doubling down.
Wait… We cannot underestimate the role of credulity in drama research. Earlier, we found a post on Erowid about a suspicious drug called Duramamine. Urban legends are like catnip to cops , who never miss a chance to capitalize on a moral panic. Narcotics officers with LaPD created a dramatic play about the harmful effects of Wait. This cassette was discovered at a thrift store and illustrates a credulity factor that is remarkable even for the police.
Oh! There’s some cute arts and crafts to accompany the play. Color and cut out your own Happy Fluff Bunny mask! That’s sweet. 😀
Yesterday, myself and my crackerjack team of dramalytics experts composed a master chart that contains all our predictions for the Team Takedown, Team Zander case study. Consider this your rosetta stone for all likely outcomes of the incident we are now witnessing (corrections on yesterday’s failures, notwithstanding).
It would be a grievous mistake to, like a child, follow arrow to data point, from arrow to datapoint. That’s not how the big boys do things. We consider the totality of the chart before us. That means we not only follow the data points and their connections, but also their placement within those semitransparent “spheres of social influence.” We also consider the shape the whole makes on the page and any freewheeling associations it causes in our minds. Remember: all drama is connected to all other drama in the universe.
Take a minute and relax your eyes. It doesn’t matter if you can read the data or not, it’s only important that you trust the data. Each arrow connecting point to point is composed of six thousand social interactions compiled from our key players over a period of several years. That is where the drama happens, and nowhere else. Got it? Now follow.
The Zone of Absolute Decay
Just underneath the four Zuckerberg Multipliers in the lower left hand corner of the chart, we find the Zone of Absolute Decay. This is a region, coined by myself, that describes those hidden influences that could be informing all of the drama that occurs on the surface. Truly, few people would make a confessional Facebook post about their traumatic dancing accident, or a physical altercation with a one-armed man, but we can deduce through deduction (duh!) that such incidents might be informing the action.
The nature of the algorithm does not lie, even by omission. It does not matter that David never posted about a dancing accident, the Undeniable Drama Codex is able to infer the reality of the dancing accident based on his social activity on the days surrounding the dancing accident.
Prediction: Progress along the Zuckerberg Multipliers tell us that David King has a bum knee from an ill-fated wedding reception he attended. Expect it to announce itself certainly and surely. This is why you should never let teens drink a few with the adults, even at a “”happy”” occasion like a wedding.
Undeniable Dramatic Corrections:
None of yesterday’s predictions played out. I’m not too big to admit that. But why? Operator error doesn’t explain it, because I’ve already fired all my stupidest employees. It’s possible the algorithm could have misread the data, like your smartphone calling out your “ducking” boss you mentioned in an angry text to your friend. This mistranslation in input is the likeliest explanation for yesterday’s mistakes.
I’d say I’m sorry for yesterday’s missteps, but I’m not.