Well, the wifi was a real problem in CAS last night, reminding us of the contingencies of network-dependent work and disrupting our flow. Still, we were able to pull off two presentations despite the intermittent signal and the ELC being temporarily “down”. One presentation focused on an early elit classic, while the other was based a digital poem that made us think further about our body’s relationship to the machine.
Thank you Darline for an excellent and thorough presentation of Judy Malloy’s classic Uncle Roger.
Written in 1986 in the very early moments of networked community formation, the story is set in Silicon Valley, California. Intertwining poetic lexia with Silicon Valley culture and semiconductor industry lore, Uncle Roger is an early work of hypertext narrative. It debuted as -an online serialized story on the Art Com Electronic Network (ACEN) conferencing system called The WELL; -as an interactive UNIX Shell Script-authored “narrabase” published online on ACEN; and, using the historic programming language BASIC, as -a disk-based hypertext that was packaged as artist’s software. The work is part of some of the first discussions of the potential for “software as art” and draws on Judy Malloy’s experience in database programming. It makes use of a node-based model of molecular narrative units that, when combined, allow for non-sequential storytelling. Written and programmed by a woman and featuring a female narrator, this early example of electronic literature is groundbreaking for numerous reasons. In pursuing a close reading of Uncle Roger and sharing with us footage of Judy speaking about the origins of the piece, Darline highlighted the Pathfinder’s Project. What happens to literary works meant to be experienced on a computing device when the software and computer systems with and for which they are created update, change or become obsolete? Do we allow these works also to become obsolete, or do we find ways to preserve them since they are important literary and cultural artifacts? Pathfinders: Documenting the Experience of Early Digital Literature, led by Dene Grigar (Washington State University Vancouver) and Stuart Moulthrop (University of Wisconsin––Milwaukee), is a digital preservation project that captures an important moment in literary history: the development of early digital literature.
Thanks Angelique for choosing and presenting on the digital poem called Separation by Annie Abrahams. With Abrahams linear yet interactive poem Separation, we are prompted to think about our relationship to machines (computers). What is the relationship between the human body and the computer? Are we joined to our computers as much as we think? With each click, we receive one more word of a poem written expressly to/for the computer. The pace forces you slow down, and the exercise supports a kind of “restoration” of your body. We agreed that the interactivity presented here takes on a new tenor – it is simple, linear, and yet it forces not just your mind but your body to engage in the interaction, drawing attention to how much our physical embodiment is strained under the sway of one’s personal computer. An important reminder as we continue to think about all the ways technology continues to shape and contour the very way we live our lives.
Continuing Your Creative Work…
Most of you (at this point) are in “full production mode”. What I mean is that beyond building out a story concept (through outlining, storyboarding, and collecting/curating digital materials), you are now putting the story together (and using certain digital tools to do this). Remember that there are a wealth of tools out there to tinker with, and you can use different tools for different parts of your final composition. Many of you have decided to work in Twine which is fantastic. There are many other digital tools to create interactive fiction that you might check out as well. In class I mentioned -Quest, -Storybird, -Squiffy, Inform, StoryStylus, BookCreator, StoryMaker. You can also work with more familiar or widespread tools like Prezi, Wix, and WordPress (you can use these tools in new and creative ways to tell a compelling interactive story). Please realize that if you are not composing your work yet, then I urge you to jump in this week, as we are nearing the close of our time together. Warning: this kind of creative composition work takes a certain amount of time, and you cannot leave it to the last minute. This is why I have devoted a certain amount of time to it since October.
On the evening of Tuesday, Dec. 11th we will have our last class together. That evening we will have some food (we will plan a potluck with a sign up) and that night you are all invited to share a walkthrough of your elit work. You are also welcome to bring along friends and family to class. The absolute FINAL deadline for formal submission of your elit work will be on Monday, December 17th. That submission will be an electronic submission (rather than an in-person hand in). More details on the plan and place for submission to come next week in class.
For Next Class…
Next class is our final day for some elit reviews and some workshop time!
- Please read Quing’s Quest. Jordan will present/walk us through this elit Twine game.
2. Please read Like Stars in A Clear Night Sky. Karina will share her reflection on this digital poem.
Your blog for the week:
By now you are supposed to have already completed ten blog posts. In short, you have reviewed ten different elit works (over the course of weekly reflections throughout the semester). Many of you are all caught up and have done a great job at this consistent work. Your final portfolio is almost complete. (There is only one more “final self-assessment narrative”. But it is not due until December 17th. I will speak about that next week in class.). If you are all caught up and have already written your ten blog posts, then you can take the week off from blogging this week and just work on your elit piece. But if you have missed a week of posting (…or several weeks), then this final week is designated a “catch up” blog week. That means, if you are under the ten-post-blog-total currently, you should blog on one of the two above pieces. I look forward to reading your thoughts about one of these texts.
See you on Tuesday…