Sunday, 17 January 2016

Module 3: Digital Literature



Module 3: Digital Literature
Monday, Jan. 18, 2016 - Sunday, Jan. 24, 2016

  • Jan. 20: On my Module 3 post, add your comments summarising three readings that you found most interesting
  • Jan. 24: Having read Inanimate Alice, episode 1 to episode 6 (the most recent), craft your own 30 second episode of Alice. Think of this as Episode 7. You will use the free version of Animoto, https://animoto.com/home. You can use images/photographs of your own making or creative commons licensed ones. You must include images, text and a soundtrack. Have a look at this example from a previous student: https://animoto.com/play/RpxpiFjbYjDxIRYqyD9IjA. Embed your Animoto video within a blog post.

16 comments:

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    1. Hi Raquel,
      Thanks for your questions. Yes, links seem to change overnight.

      When I follow the link in the google doc syllabus (https://docs.google.com/document/d/119oOsR0v0m0ljgaDyFTaaA2YKFwiHVqDy2i7g9SjJ64/edit#) for the Gutenber Elegies it leads to viewable content and, as I note in the syllabus, pages three to seven are available though, as noted, pages 70-77 are not.
      You can also read the pages three to seven section via google books: https://books.google.ca/books?id=DlO1w3BQOdEC&pg=PA3&source=gbs_toc_r&cad=4#v=onepage&q&f=false

      The Jill Walker Rettberg link, for me when I click, goes straight to the English paper: http://www.dichtung-digital.de/en/journal/archiv/?postID=278

      I'm not too sure about Inanimate Alice as when I click it all works? I just clicked on the "play episodes free" button and was able to access the episodes.

      I hope that answers your questions Raquel! Please let me know if you're still having difficulty accessing the readings. All of them worked on first click for me so I'm not sure what's occurring.

      Thanks!




      In the meantime, yes, I have asked for two different time-limits due to both the different kind of assignment and different platform. The Inanimate Alice Episode you may think of as a teaser but, as you are a well seasoned story crafter, you know that there is a lot of information we can include in what seems like a mere 30 seconds. If you prefer to think of it as a teaser; please do. This activity is about providing an opportunity to put into practise our transliteracy skills and refining them in an academic context.

      Take a look at this student's interpretation: https://animoto.com/play/wUm1otszv2x1C15Lqqk9wQ or this one: https://animoto.com/play/whZ3HePxAR9xGUAFfhMfRw or https://animoto.com/play/Iy0C910QjTmDqbuT0logWw

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  3. We are only reading the free episodes for the class, so that's Episodes 1- 5. Don't worry about 6 which currently is in Beta and is not free. But, you can watch the teaser :)

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  5. Jillian Walker Rettberg's history of early hypertext fiction was instructive. In her conclusion, she discusses Eastgates' importance as an archive of hypertext fiction works.

    This phenomenon crosses over to conventional works of fiction: author's works are canonized only after they have been published by a mainstream publishing house. With institutional backing, works of fiction gain legitimacy.

    Judy Malloy's "Hypernarrative In the Age of the Web" functions as an artist statement about hypertext fiction. It's useful to see how she -- practically speaking -- created her 1986 work Uncle Roger.

    Her readers or audiences are greeted with an immersive experience, or as Malloy writes:

    [blockquote] “[pools] of information into which the reader plunges repeatedly, emerging with a cumulative and individual picture...to build up levels of meaning and to show many aspects of the story and characters, rather than as a means of providing alternate plot turns and endings.”[/blockquote]

    In her discussion of "public literature", Malloy mentions the oral tradition Homer. I find this metaphor of the web as a “public square” very apt.

    "Inanimate Alice" is the first work of hypertext fiction I have experienced. I was pleased to see it uses narrative devices of which I’m familiar.

    As a transliterate reader, I appreciated the layering of different media. In Episode Three, Alice shows us snapshots of the school she wants to attend. She repeatedly shows off her “player”, in which she mediates the experience for the viewer.

    Another narrative device: the use of melodrama and mystery, which drives the story forward. It incites the reader — at least in my case — to click through to the ending.

    I’m struggling with the intended audience for "Inanimate Alice". Though it seems to be aimed at children, I find the subject matter unsettling: lost parents, falling down a mountain, escaping from border police.

    Perhaps I wouldn’t be as concerned if the content were in a conventional book. Classmates, thoughts?

    References

    Malloy, J. (n.d.). "Hypernarrative in the Age of the Web,” Retrieved on January 19, 2016, from thttp://www.well.com/user/jmalloy/neapaper.html.

    Pullinger, K., & Joseph, C. (2005-2015). “Inanimate Alice,” Retrieved January 19, 2016, from http://www.inanimatealice.com/

    Rettberg, J. W. (2012). "Electronic Literature Seen from a Distance: The Beginnings of a Field,” Retrieved on January 19, 2016, from http://www.dichtung-digital.de/en/journal/archiv/?postID=278.

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    1. Like you Gwynneth, I am struggling for the audience to Inanimate Alice- it's very disturbing and I can't imagine it's for kids. However, I have read all three of "The Hunger Games" books and I was so immersed in them, it was only once in a while I would remember the book was talking about children hunting each other for sport. I wonder if, in a book, your imagination only takes you as far as your brain can handle, while video or photographs force you to see it in the same way as the creator does.

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  6. The Birkets piece was interesting. The ruminations on wisdom are interesting, but I’m not sure they completely hold up to scrutiny, or at least they rely too heavily on one perspective.

    Written in 1995, it was the height of broadcast (push) media and the early web opened a door to seemingly limitless information, without a well developed context and a non-existence of experience to draw on. It would be like looking down the abyss. The constraints of the early web would also over-represent fragmented, crude media pieces. A few short decades later with the advent of broadband, indexing, and a plethora of rich content there is different media landscape to navigate.

    It was a new environment and we’re still just making sense of it. As the environment becomes less novel, as it matures, as we gain experience and learn to control it, we afford ourselves opportunities for deep time.

    He also presents a specific vision of wisdom. Reading has not always been universal. Was there wisdom in a preliterate time? Is everyone who reads wise? Is wisdom more elusive than that? Reading provides a path to wisdom, but is it the only path and is it guaranteed?

    The Rettberg piece was ostensibly an introduction to the origins of electronic literature, but for me it was a kind of treatise on impermanence. What would be considered literary canon in the field are lost due to technical obsolescence, defunct publishers, or simply vanishing in the digital tide. I tried to locate and experience titles mentioned in this piece but ultimately came up empty.

    I had more success in locating The Roar of Destiny. An artifact of time, it seems like something I’m more interested in reading about than actually reading. One passage stood out:

    In contrast and/or in augmented narrative depth, hypernarratives imitate the associative, contingent flow of human thought and the unpredictable progression of our lives. Using the computer's capability of mimicking our disordered yet linked thought processes, I strive to put the reader in the narrator's mind. I want the reader to have the feeling of looking at the world thru her eyes, of exploring her memories. (Malloy, 1998)

    Isn’t this, at its core, the experience offered by Facebook and the litany of other social media? Through other’s feeds we explore their memories and experience?

    ---

    REFERENCES

    Birkets, S. (1994). The Gutenberg Elegies: The Fate of Reading in an Electronic Age, pps. 3-7, 70-77

    Malloy, J. (n.d.). "Hypernarrative in the Age of the Web,” http://www.well.com/user/jmalloy/neapaper.html

    Rettberg, J.W. (2012). "Electronic Literature Seen from a Distance: The Beginnings of a Field,” http://www.dichtung-digital.de/en/journal/archiv/?postID=278

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    1. Like Birkerts, I feel it’s hard to engage people in conversations about technology changing the way we interact with written words and ideas: things are speeding up so quickly, we don’t even have time to think about how it affects us. However, I also agree with his “adversaries” “the more things change, the more they stay the same” (p, 4). As written by James Carrey in Time, Space and the Telegraph, the telegraph changed the world in terms of a development of “an encephalated social nervous system,” commercialization slow to be realized, and a reorganization of commerce (p.151), and this is incredibly similar to the way the World Wide Web has changed things in this era.

      In the Malloy reading, the idea of “hypertext fiction offers narratives that operate as networks rather than linear sequences," as written by Katherine Hayles made me think of old Choose Your Own Adventure stories I read as a kid. This is echoed by the quote from Joyce, “I wanted, quite simply, to write a novel that would change in successive readings and to make those changing versions according to the connections that I had for some time naturally discovered in the process of writing and that I wanted my readers to share,” hoping the audience will experience the writing process rather than just the evolving story.

      I personally felt The Roar of Destiny, to be more of an art project than a work of literature. I feel to read text “mimicking our disordered yet linked thought processes,” to be an interesting concept, but I was unable to follow the story. Putting that story together is the job of a writer, to pull out the bits that go together from the jumble in our brains, and so in creating a space where, as Rosenberg wrote, “simply following a chain of links does not necessarily make these visitations cohere into a tangible entity,” and I found that it was more of a visual project than a story I could make sense of.

      The Inanimate Alice experience, by contrast, has the opposite effect on me. It is a similar stream of consciousness way of storytelling, but it takes control away from the viewer, while still giving the illusion of control. The experience changes over the episodes, but you still have to experience the story at the pace decided by the creators, and no faster, which is completely unlike a traditional book where you can skip or pause. Like a book, by putting tokens down the side, you have the sense of making progress, but the interactivity does not allow you to change the story or speed it up. For example, in episode two, the narrator asks if she should go outside in a dark, snowy night. My answer is “no!” but I am forced to help her get dressed to go, giving me a sense of participation and choice, but I am helping her do something I don’t want to. By episode three, the text goes faster, the arrows come up at the same time as the text, so I can skip through faster, but it’s still the same lack of control. In episode three, I chose to play the game, and while it let me navigate more quickly, soothing my limited attention span, the interruptions for the game made me irritated, making me attuned to how limited that attention span is. When I want to keep the story flowing, it would stop for the game. I was also interested that each chapter takes longer to view, and if I am honest, if it wasn’t for an assignment I would have bailed out in Moscow. Going from five minutes, (episode one) to thirty minutes (for episode four) was a stretch.

      References:
      Sven Birkets, (1994). The Gutenberg Elegies: The Fate of Reading in an Electronic Age, pps. 3-7.

      Carey, J. (2007). Time, space, and the telegraph. In D. Crowley & P. Heyer (Ed.), Communication in history: Technology, culture, society (5th ed., pp. 150-155). Boston, MA: Pearson Education.

      Judy Malloy, (n.d.). "Hypernarrative in the Age of the Web,” Retrieved from: http://www.well.com/user/jmalloy/neapaper.html

      Pullinger, K. and Joeph, C. (2000-2014). Retrieved January 23, 2016 from: http://www.inanimatealice.com/


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  7. I think I found Birket's supposedly emancipatory valorization of "authentic works of art" at the end of his essay, "The Owl Has Flown," (1994) to be a little trite and made me conclude the piece with a negative feeling, after enjoying the rest of it. It is certainly one thing to ponder the profound loss of depth our society has earned through our newfound habit of skimming and the emerging electronic media's contribution to the proliferation of content. In this media environment of deluge-barrage, says Birkets, only art and nostalgia can offer authentic depth anymore, echoing Benjamin's "aura" (2008/1936).

    Given the fluid relationship between art and commerce, creativity and industry, I think it's too difficult to draw a line -- or to suggest that depth isn't available or accessible otherwise, nor is authenticity itself a concept without problems. Indeed, this 3D-ization (e.g. adding breadth) of our media through the 20th and 21st centuries, to me, represents community fragmentation that contributes to the devaluation of social institutions generally. That, while the media democratizes information and art, and liberates the ideas and communication among different publics and audiences, it fundamentally offers total saturation which forces a clustering of information. This may mean that in the truly common spaces, discursively, depth is receding; but within these clustered communities of practice, depth thrives with the networked facility of sharing and collaboration.

    Perhaps this is why when I encountered Inanimate Alice (2000-14), I was struck most that it was a collaborative piece. I tried to observe different treatments of the narrative through the mini-chapters within the episodes, and how they came together. I think that it was, in some measure, collage -- which is, in part, a fundamental aspect of the descriptions I read in Rettberg (2012) and Malloy (n.d.). So, if electronic literature is to be one of the avenues beyond canonical english works through the 20th century, I am eager to discover more about how multi-modal criticism will, appropriately, draw and build on the conventions and experiences of different fields of film, art, music, drama, etc.

    References

    Benjamin, W. (2008). The work of art in the age of mechanical reproduction. Penguin UK. Original published in 1936.

    Birkets, S. (1994). "The owl has flown." The Gutenberg elegies: The fate of reading in an electronic age. pps. 70-71.

    Judy Malloy, (n.d.). "Hypernarrative in the Age of the Web,” Retrieved from: http://www.well.com/user/jmalloy/neapaper.html

    Pullinger, K. and Joeph, C. (2000-2014). Inanimate Alice. Retrieved January 23, 2016 from: http://www.inanimatealice.com/

    Rettberg, J. W. (2012). "Electronic Literature Seen from a Distance: The Beginnings of a Field,” Retrieved on January 17, 2016, from http://www.dichtung-digital.de/en/journal/archiv/?postID=278.

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