Generative Lit & World Building

Another great #elitclass conversation this week, which seemed to bring new insight into the power (and variety) of born digital storytelling. We had two very different pieces to explore together, giving


Thanks, Kevin for an insightful overview of the BOTS collection and our first glimpse into what is considered generative literature. There is much buzz (and perhaps, confusion) about the notion of “generative literature.”  It is indeed a specific form of literature which challenges some aspects of classical literature.  Frequently associated with the power of the machine (read computer), generative literature is often understood as the production of continuously changing literary texts by means of some set of rules and/or the use of algorithms.

“Short for robot, a bot is a computer program designed to operate autonomously, performing scheduled, responsive, or real-time operations in a computer, through the Internet, and/or on social media networks. What distinguishes bots from other kinds of software is that they interact with and/or produce content for humans, often assuming a human persona.” – ELC, Vol. 3

While people access Twitter through its web site, bots connect directly to the Twitter mainline, parsing the information in real time and posting at will; it’s a code-to-code connection, made possible by Twitter’s open application programming interface, or A.P.I.  Everyone who uses twitter has seen a spambot or two.  These are used mostly for public relations and commercial use.  But there is also a growing population of creative bots that consume, remix, and contribute to a broader internet culture.

For more on BOTS, check this old #netnarr post out:

Also, For more thoughts on the non-creative use of this technology as a follow up to our conversation, here is more food for thought:

In addition, you can check out this recorded “Studio Visit” conversation about bots and electronic literature in general  (featuring Dr. Leonardo Flores, Prof. Alan Levine, yours truly, and several Kean University students):


And a big shout out and thanks to Orella for the dynamic and exciting walkthrough of Trope by Sarah Waterson, Elena Knox, and Cristyn Davies. The possibility of using computers to create immersive virtual environments in which one can interact with others has excited the imagination for decades, and this piece brings us up against that possibility rather vividly. “Trope” is a location you can visit in Second Life (a virtual space for users to explore using their customizable avatars, create landscapes and objects with 3D modeling tools, program behaviors onto these objects with their scripting language, and interact with over a million users). For many of you, you were stuck because you didn’t have the software to run the work, and so your initial run-through did not work properly. Thankfully, Orella brought us all into the fold and made the wonder of the piece evident to all. Trope creatively intervenes in ways that readers engage with literature by creating a virtual environment that is conducive to the experience of reading poetic text. “The physicality of the text itself is key.”  Visitors to the conVerge island are able to explore the variety of landscape and architectural designs, read text presented in the form of books and a floating geometric maze, and enjoy fireworks. This piece clearly expanded our collective understanding(s) of “world-building” in stories.

Your to-do list for next week:

-Read:  Window (Nives’ selection)

Read:   Ask Me for the Moon  (Edward’s selection)

-Your fifth blog post is due.  Blog about your reading experience and understanding of the Window and/or Ask Me For the Moon, Again, remember some key questions when blogging: How would you describe your experience of the text? How did you choose to navigate these texts?  What visual, sound, interactive elements left an impression?  What themes and symbolic language emerge in navigating the text? What is literary about the text?

Also, you #elitclass twitter use is becoming more and more interactive! (Excellent). Just another reminder to tweet your blog posts to the class hashtag #elitclass each week and any other #elit related content that might be interesting!

Enjoy the weekend,

Dr. Zamora

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.