Daniel Bretl - Portfolio for Graduate School Application

Living Image

Setting colors free in the name of evolution

100 Word Story

Collaborative spontaneous story writing


Taking a few megapixel-sized steps backwards

Long Exposure

Exploring the display of change over time


Living a life in images

Travel Blog

Visually exploring the world at large

Place in Silhouette

Capturing the essence of a place in its shapes

This Pen...

Finding my true paper self


Turning everyday life into art


Using color to discover patterns of word usage

PatchWords is a new kind of journal. It is a Universal iPad & iPhone app that invites users to throw their words into the digital void and watch them become color coded blocks that reveal patterns of word usage.

There were two main inspirations for this project. First, I wanted to create a piece of software that coded words into colors as you typed them, so that, for example, every time the user typed the word "rainy" it would be assigned the same specific shade of purple, and every time the user typed "and" it would be assigned some other color - let's say a light green. In this way, the user could recognize and analyze repetition and patterns in their word usage with something potentially more effective - or at least more beautiful - than mere numerical data.

Secondly, I wanted to create a project exploring the fact that after a person writes in a journal, they rarely ever go back and read or review what they wrote. Words and thoughts are so often just thrown into the pit of a journal with absolutely no expectation of ever reading or doing anything with them again. I wonder if people usually are aware of and accepting this, or whether instead they truly feel they - or someone else - will someday go back and delve into the depths of their past psyche. To explore this idea, I made the act of "throwing words into the invisible" rather literal by setting the default mode of PatchWords to not actually display text at all. Instead, by default, words are simply coded into empty colored blocks.

This app is very young, and I am only just beginning to figure out its future. Immediate ideas that come to mind include greater processing speed as well as a probable port over to the new Mac app store (to take advantage of speedier typing and stronger computing power). Eventually, I hope to allow users to submit their word usage data anonymously to a central data bank, so that potential patterns can be found across a great population of writers.

The app is written in Objective-C and comprised of over 3600 lines of fully object-oriented code. I would highly recommend trying out the app for yourself on an iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch device. To do so for free, simply request a free download promo code from Dan.