The DumpsterAbout the Dumpster ProjectUsing the Dumpster InterfaceArtist StatementEssay by Lev ManovichSelections from the Breakup DatabaseCredits and Acknowledgements

Some Quick Troubleshooting Tips

  • The Dumpster is a Java applet. If you don't see anything interactive on the main Dumpster page, you may need to install Java in your browser. You should install a Java package with version 1.3 or greater.

  • The Dumpster has a moderately large initial download size of about 460kB. The program is downloading a lot of data and other resources. This could take up to 2 minutes to download on a 28.8 modem. Visitors with DSL and T1 connections should generally receive the download within less than a minute.

  • We gotta be honest: The Dumpster requires a fast computer with a good graphics card. It also wouldn't hurt to have a fast internet connection. We wish it didn't have to be this way, but it is. Under ideal circumstances we would recommend experiencing the Dumpster with a 2.6GHz+ PC, or a Mac G5, outfitted with some sort of Gamer-preferred graphics card such as an nVidia geForce.

Using the Dumpster Interface: A Guide

The core interactive concept of the Dumpster interface is the idea that a Currently Selected Breakup serves as a query into the complete database of breakups. The interface allows you to see which breakups are similar to the currently selected breakup, and to what extent they are similar or different.

In other words, the Dumpster allows you to surf the collection of breakups by skipping from one breakup to others which are similar. "Similarity" is a weighted combination of many linguistic, demographic, and thematic factors. For example, two breakups would be considered similar if their authors were both fifteen-year-old females, both of whom dumped their partners for a similar reason (like "cheating"), and who both described their situations with a lot of angry language.


The main portion of the Dumpster interface is devoted to the Breakup Bubbles. A constantly-changing subset of about 200 breakups is represented by bubbles here. One of the bubbles is very special: the Currently Selected Breakup, which is yellow. You can click on any bubble to make that breakup into the Current Selection.

The Current Selected Breakup is important because it acts as a query into the complete database of 20,000 breakups. All of the other bubbles are colored to indicate their similarity to the Current Selection. Breakups which are more similar to the Current Selection are redder and brighter, and gradually move towards the Current Selection. The size of a Breakup Bubble represents the length of its corresponding text extract, and also the number of descriptive attributes that are known for that breakup.


At the left side of the Dumpster is the PixelView region. This area represents the entire database of 20,000 breakups, using one pixel per breakup. The brightness of each pixel represents the similarity of its corresponding breakup to the Currently Selected Breakup. Brighter pixels represent breakups with greater similarity. The PixelView area is spatially sorted by age, sex, and other descriptive factors. Pixels representing male bloggers are slightly blue.

Clicking on a pixel in this region will cause its Breakup Bubble to enter into the the bubble window. To select these Breakup Pixels more accurately, a small window in the lower-left corner shows a magnified view of the pixel underneath your cursor. To select with great precision, you can use the Arrow keys on your keyboard to move your selection around, and the Return/Enter key to execute your selection.


A stack of Breakup Balloons at the right of the Dumpster contain the text excerpts associated with each breakup. The Currently Selected Breakup is always shown in the top balloon; the other balloons show the history of your viewing. The balloons are attached by dotted lines to their corresponding Breakup Bubbles. Clicking on a previously-viewed Bubble will bring its Balloon back to the top.

At the bottom of the Dumpster is a Timeline showing how many of the breakups in the database happened each day in 2005. The day on which the Currently Selected Breakup happened is highlighted. Future improvements to the Timeline will permit breakups to be selected by date.