Chat Transcript: May 19, 2002

Welcome to the zany world of elit. What ARE we talking about anyway? What makes this writing different from any other writing? What makes this art different? What are we doing that you just can't do on paper? Guest speakers: Jill Walker, Robert Kendall.

Related Links

Coming in
Helen says, "Hi Rob" trAcELO says, "Hi all"
trAcELO says, "Helen, I am going to relog in as me..."
Rob Kendall says, "Hi, Helen"
Helen says, "OK, I'll hang around here....."
trAcELO has disconnected. Deena arrives.Deena shimmers into a new identity
Rob Kendall says, "Hi Deena"
Helen says, "Welcome back Deena"
Everdeen saunters in.
Helen says, "Hi Everdeen"
Everdeen says, "Hello Helen"
Deena passes around cookies and ice tea and ice-cream...
Jill opens the door, looks around the room, finding you to smile to. Jill says, "Hello :)"
Everdeen smiles thanks to Deena
Deena says, "This is better--as me I can see who is coming in the door and greet them!"
Deena welcomes everyone
Jill waves happily to everyone. Jill smiles greeting
Rob Kendall says, "Hi Jill"
Deena says, "Hi Jill and Rob, I have the webshow ready to go"
Jill says, "Excellent. I'm on a borrowed computer and for some reason the web interface won't work, so I'm in text only, but I'm sure I'll manage to follow you :)"
Everdeen says, "Rob Hello!"
Rob Kendall smiles at Jill
minimusW arrives. minimusW says, "Hi Deena, Rob, Wes Chapman here"" Deena says, "Hey wes, good to see you here!" Rob Kendall says, "Oh hi wes. I wondered who you were"
Jill says, "Hello wes! nice to see you :)"
Everdeen smiles hello Jill
Deena displays slide #1 on WhatIsIt?:

What are we talking about?

This is a new landscape, where even basics like definitions are not yet settled--we are using terms like "electronic literature, new media literature, netwurk, hypertext," and more to describe a rapidly growing phenomenon. There are many arguments about what this field/genre/new art form is, and we won't settle those here today.

Just for convenience, I would like to say that we are talking about literature that goes beyond traditional linear books. Electronic literature is usually on a computer (and these days, is mostly on the web). There are lots of exceptions to this, but I hope that this short chat gets you interested in exploring this field and its wonderful new possibilities further.

I am going to provide a short introduction to the field in the right side of your chat screen. You can click on the links here to open up these works and explore. The lecture will also be at so you can go back and see these works at any time.

minimusW says, "Hi all""
Deena says, "Hi minimus! welcome to the trAce Eliterature chat on what eliterature is"
Deena says, "Can everyone see the "What are we talking about on the screen? This is an introduction to electronic literature to introduce our chat and get us started"
minimusW says, "I've got it, no problem""
MazThing says, "Unfortunately I'm using a MUD client but....I'll just listen along, thanks, Deena."
MazThing smiles warmly around.

Introduces guests
Deena says, "Thanks for being our guests today, Jill Walker and Robert Kendall, readers and writers par excellance"
Helen says, "Hello Jill"
Jill bows to Deena in thanks.
Jill smiles hello
Jill nods yes, I see it.
MazThing pops in.
Rob Kendall smiles at MazThing
Deena says, "It is always so fun to uncover identities in here..."
Deena hands round party masks and Victorian fancy ball dresses
minimusW says, "Hi Jill, sorry, slow on uptake""
Jill dons her tiger mask.
Deena passes out more beer and hands Jill a nice warm cup of mile for her tiger suit
Everdeen wants a nice warm cup of mile....none of those kilometres!
Deena quickly recovers and gets milk for Jill
Everdeen smiles at Deena
Jill laughs
Rob Kendall wonders what to do with his ball dress
minimusW prefers a less revealing ball dress
Easty arrives
Deena says, "Hi Easty, we are settling in and introducing ourselves. I
am Deena Larsen, a hypertext addict and cohost here..."
Deena says, "A big welcome to Rob Kendall and Jill Walker, our guests today"
Jill says, "And I'm Jill Walker, a hypertext lover and guest ;)"
Rob Kendall says, "I'm Rob Kendall, director of the ELO Electronic Literature Directory and hypertext/Flash poet"
MazThing belatedly admits to being Pauline Masurel, a fiction writer who also participates in various writing activities online.
Easty disconnects
Rob Kendall says, "I think Easty just went west"
Deena says, "Yes, I see people disconnecting and I am wondering if we have a disconnector"
Helen says, "A disconnector?"
Deena says, "A bad Gremlin that runs around pulling plugs"

Flashy subjects
Helen says, "Does anyone work in wliterature these days and NOT Flash?"
minimusW says, "Wliterature"?"
Deena says, "Why literature?"
Jill says, "Or web literature?"
Helen says, "Anyway I'll save it for question time later!"
Rob Kendall says, "Helen, yes there are still a lot of text-only folks out there in elit"
RobKendall says, "I think that most linear Flash poetry is generally more accessible than hypertext. I now start my students with animate flash poems, because they are conceptually less "Far out" than hypertext"
Helen says, "However, I do think that Flash is a bit of a red herring - I'd hate people to think that elit = Flash - once creators start with Flash they rarely go back to other technologies and we'll end up with a situation of Flash = Web"

Start with the simple
Helen says, "OK, I am looking for a nice simple introduction to eliterature - interesting pieces that show off what's possible but that beginners can understand without having to be post-modernists.....and I always want the writer to be accessible and
available to chat to me and my beginners. Whom do I pick?"
Deena says, "Good question, Helen. I hope I have some of the answers here..." Deena displays slide #1 on WhatIsIt?:<>.
Rob Kendall says, "I think deena made a list of elit pieces that work well as introductions to the genre, right Deena?"
Deena says, "Yeah, the wholelist and slideshow should show up in a new window"
Deena shares a URL.<>.
Helen says, ""That's the kind of thing ...."
minimusW says, "I'm there a contradiction between wanting a sample text to be accessible and wanting it to be an introduction to the field? Like it or not--and I do both--most HT's ARE experimental and difficult.""
Helen says, "The Unknown I must admit is always fun"
Helen says, "More accessible than some?"
Helen says, "I like to think Wes that they aren't mutually exclusive, but it does seem to be that those who work in elit are also those who are experimenting with new kinds of content."
minimusW says, "I think in ten years or so the disjunction between accessible and representative won't be a problem...right now, though, there has to be a considerable motivation to climb the learning curve. One motivation is that the form allows for experimentation.""
Helen says, "Wes you're right"
Deena says, "I am stalling for a minute as people come in...I advertised this far and wide in the writing community, so I think some folks not used to the lingua site are trying to get in..."
laird arrives.
Jill smiles at Laird
laird says, "Boy, it was hard finding this place..."
Deena says, "Welcome laird! What was the difficulty?"
Jill says, "Well, I'm glad you got here laird!"
minimusW says, "Hi laird"
laird says, "I ran an enCore site perhaps two years ago, and I want to start another one up but couldn't remember the exact name. Looking for "Web moo" tracked down a billion web/woo projects, all long dead, and no links to encore."
Jill says, "Ah, it is hard to find places when you can't remember the address..."
laird says, "So I had to rummage around, chasing links everywhere, until I stumbled onto encore"
Deena says, "I am glad you found us!"
laird says, "Yes, it would have been easier if I'd remember the exact name. still, off that yahoo and google don't return a link here."
Deena says, "Hmmm...yes, I should tell folks to search under Lingua Moo"
Everdeen ponders the number of MOOs in the web
laird says, "I'd suggest, at the least, that somebody should add an entry in their web directory under MOO for enCore."
Helen says, "TrAce and ELO both have links about the chat on their front pages"
Deena says, "Good point, I don't have alink to encore on the chat, just to the web interface"
MazThing gingerly offers that the best list of moos she knows is at:
laird says, "So has anyone tried running MOO under MacOS X?"
Impressionist Guest arrives.
Deena says, "Welcome impressionist guest"
Deena says, "Laird and Impressionist, would you like to introduce yourselves?"
Deena says, "I am Deena Larsen, hypertext addict and cohost of the trace eliterature chats..."
Impressionist_Guest says, "Hi, what an odd name I have! I'm actually Elizabeth (James) -- used to have an i.d. here but I've let it lapse."
Deena says, "Hi Elizabeth! those blackbirds have now been joined by a big bobcat in my backyard, so pictures are more problematic..."
Jill says, "I think you can rename yourself by typing @rename me to Whatever, Elizabeth"

Approaches to hypertext
Deena says, "I do have slides prepared for folks who are not familiar with electronic literature...should we go through them anyway?"
Helen says, "Go with the slides Deena"
Deena displays slide #2 on WhatIsIt?:<>.

Read through themes and connections

Rather than reading from page one, page two, page three and so on till the end, these works provide jumping off places, or links, for connections. This sets up a different dynamic for the tale. In Jackie Craven's Changing Room, for example, readers follow a tangled skein of character's and weave in and out of different stories by clicking on links. The story is set up so that you cannot read a single character through to the end--as you read you see how characters are interconnected.

The Unknown, by a group of unknown writers, is a funny tale of a book tour gone well, somewhat awry. You can read through this by clicking on links to other connected pieces. When the Unknown read, they ding a bell to signal a link, and the audience can shout out if they want to visit that link rather than finish the screen they are on.

Deena says, "Yes,this screen shows some typical hypertexts with links...I tried to list the accessible elit here, stuff that I like and think is fun, and others can get into quickly...."
RobKendall says, "Wes, there are so many different approaches to hypertext. I think that accessible approaches can be just as valid (often) as being representative of the field."
minimusW says, "Oh yes I completely agree. I'd like to see FAR MORE accessible elit--and the greatest possible tolerance among all of us for different kinds of elit.""
Helen says, "Yes sure"
Deena says, "Ok, here is the next..."
RobKendall says, "I think a lot of the so-called inaccessibility of
Hypertext siply lies in software interfaces that haven't yet matured."
Deena displays slide #3 on WhatIsIt?:
Deena displays slide #4 on WhatIsIt?:
Helen says, "We mustn't be so snooty about beginners either, just because they aretrying things that others have tried before. The form of the novel has been tried before but no-one is laughed out for re-using it"
minimusW says, "Helen I totally agree""
minimusW says, "I lost my slides somehow""
Deena displays slide #5 on WhatIsIt?:<>.
Deena says, "Ahhh, there they are"

Infuse imagery

Peter Howard's Rainbow Factory uses both imagery and animation to get the point across. You can explore the factory in any direction just by clicking on the windows.

M.D. Coverley takes readers on tours of incredible vistas with her work. The imagery helps readers choose where to go and steer through ancient and modern mysteries in Egypt in the Book of Going Forth by Day. By the way, this work is being written on the internet--another new aspect of electronic literature as readers see the work unfold in a sophisticated weblog. For a shorter but no less intriguing read, try Life in the Chocolate Mountains. As MD Coverley says, the reader's job is to assemble the pieces. In both these works, the author lays out an imagistic world for readers to discover to recover the story..

Note: These works may take a while to load, but are worth waiting for.

Margaret, historical, and jeansmith arrive
Jill says, "Welcome margaret!"
Deena says, "Welcome Jean and margaret, we are quickly going through slides that list some fun eliterature"
Historical Guest arrives.
jeansmith says, "Hello"
Jill says, "Hello !"
Deena says, "Welcome historical, we are going through some slides that list electronic literature possibilities. The ones here are flash and very image intensive, but worth the wait."
Deena displays slide #6 on WhatIsIt?:
minimusW says, "Maybe we should pick one and focus on it? It's hard to read and converse at the same time""
Deena says, "True enough, Wes."
Deena says, "I was hoping to show these so that folks can come back and pick up the books and pieces..."
minimusW says, "Yes, good idea."

Going back to flash
minimusW says, "I like Flash for some things, but it sure makes leisurely narrative difficult--if not impossible""
Everdeen nods agreement with Helen about danger of FLASH-mind-set
RobKendall says, "Helen, I think there are a lot of different approaches you can take with flash. it's not really a monolithic medium -- especially if you're willing to program in actionscript."
Everdeen muses that it's really a matter of recognizing FLASH as a medium or a tool, rather than a definitive aspect.
RobKendall says, "Flash can also be combined with other technologies. A lot of people add a few flash pages to long html hypertexts. I even have a bit of flash in Clues."
minimusW says, "Everdeen, no, I don't think so. Most Flash poetry is not hypertext."
Everdeen says, "MimumusW, so there can be eliterature w/o hypertext. Is all Flash poetry eliterature?"
minimusW says, "Everdeen, sure. Why not? I'm not saying it's all good--but that's not a discussion I'd care to start!"
Deena displays slide #7 on WhatIsIt?: <>.

Respond to reader choices

Remember the Choose-your-own adventure books where if you rescued the princess you went to section 208 on page 64? Electronic works have built on this early notion of readers' choices to format works that change depending on your choices. For example, Robert Kendall's Clues combines poetry and imagery in a game-like setting where you solve mysteries, including the mystery of life.

Familiarity with the landscape
Jill says, "Is there anyone here who's never seen any electronic literature, but who is curious?"
Deena says, "Jean, historical, laird, are you guys familiar with electronic litearure? is this your first foray?"
Jill says, "You can talk by typing say and then whatever you want to say in the box at the bottom left of your screen."
jeansmith says, "I am familiar with what it is and I'm thinking about my use for it, and its use for me."
laird says, "I'm pretty familiar with this stuff. I ran an enCore site a few years ago, and was a moo hacker on metaverse many moons ago..."
Jill grins, nice to hear that jean and laird
Deena says, "Terrific, jean. Welcome aboard..."
Deena says, "Laird, jean, historical, have you guys looked at an electronci literature piece? or explored this medium?"
jeansmith says, "I've looked at, and tried to download, but it was blurry"
RobKendall says, "Real hard-core elit is something that wouldn't work
as well in print, unlike most ebooks."
minimusW says, "Or work at all"
Deena says, "Jean, which did you try to download?"
jeansmith says, "Something off the site we had a chat with some of the authors from... back a few months ago"
Helen says, "The ALtX ebooks?"
jeansmith says, "Yes"
Deena says, "Jean, do you have the URL or any subject for it? perhaps I can help"
jeansmith says, "I'll get that to you "
elizabethj sigh ... can't recall page ...
Deena says, "To page someone, type page NAME "MESSAGE"

Slideshow watching

Deena displays slide #9 on WhatIsIt?:<>.

Add sound

All three of these works use sound as another element to convey emotion and underscore action as an inseparable part of the literature. Other works rely mostly on sound to convey the meaning.

David Knoebel's use of sound in his click poetry provides a spoken ending that gives the meaning to the written word sequence. For example, when we click on the phrase "can't say yes," we see the words "can't say no" and hear the words "time passes."

Jim Andrew's Nio incorporates jazz notes and tunes with beautifully rendered moving letters. As we choose which sounds to listen to, we create a synthesized jam session.

Deena says, "David's click poetry here isn't in flash, but is a useful addition.."
Jill says, "I'm not familiar with David's work, Deena, where is it? And what is it?"
Deena says, "Jill, you can see the link on the side to David Knoebel's work, but basically the work has three parts, two are written and then the third line is spoken. it's kind of fun and a new approach to merging visual and oral"Easty arrives from Fifth Dimension
Jill says, "Hi Easty, nice to see you back!"
Deena says, "Easty, if you've missed some of the slides, I have all of these listed at"
>> Historical_Guest is now known as b_theater.>> Impressionist_Guest is now known as elizabethj.
Deena displays slide #11 on WhatIsIt?:

Include background information

Electronic literature does not have the storage limitations of a printed book--so you can incorporate materials that provide an entire context for a work.

Diana Slattery's Glide provides an entire new language of dancing semicircles, a mystic oracle, and more to make her story real.

Helen Whitehead's Web, Warp, and Waft uses poetry, images of technology and patterns, interviews, documents, and other texts to "explore the resonances between the making of textiles and the making of the web."

minimusW says, "BTW, Deena, great work in this intro. I realize it's not over yet""
Deena says, "The works on the side now (Which include Helen's work and Diana's are other approaches which use a lot of links and background material"
Deena thanks wes :)
Deena displays slide #13 on WhatIsIt?:<>.

Want to see more?

The Electronic Literature Organization has a directory of works and a showcase of wonderful web journals that feature hypertext literature. ELO Symposium also featured 50 new works (2002) in its Gallery.

Marjorie Luesebrink (MD Coverley) and others reviewed great works in 2000 -2001 in Jumpin at the Diner and Progressive Dinner Party for Riding the Meridian. Carolyn Guertin's Assemblage is a list of women writers in new media updated monthly.

Not all hypertexts are on the web! Some of the best hypertexts use other software such as Storyspace or Hypercard. You can get many of these at Eastgate Systems.

Deena says, "Ahh, that is the one I want to end on---a jumping off list of electronic literature..."
Helen says, "Deena, is this introduction available for people to browse through at their leisure afterwards?"
Deena passes around post slide popcorn and cokes
Deena says, "Yes, please go to afterwards to click and poke around at these works."
Helen says, "A transcript or log of this chat will also be available at the trAce and ELO sites (eventually)"
Deena says, "Right Helen, at"
RobKendall munchs popcorn
Deena says, "And people can view this slideshow here by typing "View 1 on whatisit?"

Difference between elit and ebooks
Helen says, "Why don't we mean downloadable ebooks when we say "Eliterature"? Rob? Jill?"
Everdeen says, "Deena? You point out that not all hypertexts are on the web. Which is more critical to being eliterature? The hypertextuality or the locus?"
Deena says, "Good question, Helen. What makes electronic literature electronic literature, rather than just a downloadable PDF?"
minimusW says, "Helen, I suppose because ebooks don't yet change the shape of narrative""
Helen stitches Ev's and Deena's points together
Deena says, "Good point, Everdeen... What is more critical to electronic literature? I keep saying that electronic literature is stuff that you cannot do in a linear print format. "
Jill says, "For me, eliterature means literature that COULDN'T be printed. most ebooks are just new copies of old novels, or new novels written in a triadtional print manner. I want to read new things that use the new medium!"
Jill says, "I agree Deena, elit is lit that can't be printed."
Margaret says, "I agree with you there, Jill, eliterature is more than the printed book, not necessarily better but covering more facets"
Jill nods to Margaret, "That's right, it's not about being better or worse, but about being different, being itself, just as novels aren't better or worse than movies but different :)
Everdeen says, "Eliterature can't be printed but it *can* be presented in a "Static" form on a CD?"
RobKendall says, "For me the different between conentional ebooks and so-called elit or new media lit is that most ebooks are just printed books that are dumped into an electronic interface."
Helen says, "First films were just recorded stage plays - then the producers and writers realised that a new medium meant different possibilities. That's the case here too"
Jill [to Helen]: yes that's a bit of a worry - imagine if steven spielfberg had to direct movies in a way that he knew the script would sell well if published in book-form!
Everdeen says, "So a critical step being focused on is that eliterature introduces a change in the shape of the narrative, of the journey, in the writing -- but that it can still exist in a "Static" form, captured on a CD, for instance"

Works to introduce people to
Deena says, "Are there other works that people like to introduce newcomers to in electronic literature?"
RobKendall says, "Geoff Ryman's hypertext 253 (I think I've got the title right) is a good introductory hypertext, because of the way it's structured and the navigational map he provides. the text is also easy to read."
Deena says, "Rob, I really like 253. It is a good way to show format and a formal structure. 253 has 253 nodes each with 253 words and links between the stories."
Jill says, "I agree, 253 is a good place to start."
Helen says, "Of course 253 HAS been printed - in a book - Geoff Ryman at the last Incubation conference admitted that he knew that would happen, and therefore when writing the hypertext he was still thinking in "Print""

Turning ht into print
RobKendall says, "One of Rob Swigart's early interactive novels was also released in print and there is a print version of Strickland's hypertext poem Sand and Soot."
minimusW says, "Well, Everdeen, it depends on what you're trying to do...if collaboration is of the essence, then any static form won't do"
RobKendall says, "Reading the hypertext version and the print version of Sand and Soot are two very different experiences though."
Deena says, "Stephanie's True North was originally a print work that won awards. She turned it into a hypertext to add the connections and structure that she could not achieve in print"
Helen says, "I did the same with my hypertext bovel for my MA dissertation - because I knew the assessors would have to read it in print :(. It turned out like a choose-your-own=adventure with "Go to page 45 or 47" written in""
Jill [to Helen]: sounds rather amusing for an ma, actually! what fun!
Deena says, "There are other works that simply cannot be printed out, in any form. My first work, Marble Springs, is in HyperCard, and it has lots of hidden places to click and to go to. I tried to print out an archive copy and failed miserably"
Helen says, "Books have been turned into films - plays - radio series - etc. why not a book and a hypertext/elit work? They would be different pieces though in the same way as a book and a film, and one is often disappointing"
Jill [to Helen]: yes, but books turned into films are heavily adapted, they|re not just printed out onto film...
Deena says, "Helen, there is a difference in the approach to a book and a movie, though. How do you see differences in approaches in print and electronic literature?"
Helen says, "The hitchiker's guide to the galaxy was radio - play - TV - film - book - LP - it would have been BEST possibly as a hypertext (and a sort of HHGTTG is being collaboratively written as we speak)"
Deena says, "Helen, that is funny, I always thought of the Don't Panic Hictchikers guide as the first real hypertext..."
Deena hands round big friendly books with Don't Panic written in big letters as the books drop in from an unexplained sky rift

In flux from cd to web
Margaret says, "The only thing you can do on the web that you can't do on CD is to be interactive in real time"
Everdeen says, "Margaret, I disagree, one can continue to evolve a piece on the becomes fixed to a point in time whentransferred to CD"
minimusW says, "Margaret, that's a big only...""
Margaret says, "Not neccessarily Everdeen You just burn another CD"
Deena says, "Everdeen what about pieces that do not go onto a cd?"
Everdeen says, "MinimusW... precisely my point!....which is why I am asking about the bounds of the definition of eliterature with respect to CD versus web"
Jill says, "And if it's on the web, it really is more accessible..."
Everdeen says, "Margaret, then all you are doing with a second CD is creating another loose the movie"
Margaret says, "Everdeen, movies are made of snapshots and so is the web., There is no such thing there as true fluidity"
Everdeen says, "Margaret, I think in some ways the difference is like that between a and growing and being nurtured....and a flower shop."
MazThing says, "Margaret, perhaps the 'expectation or possibility of change' is the a difference is always possible...on the CD it is *definitely* fixed"
Everdeen says, "Margaret, the fluidity isn't in the moment, but in the continuation of the journey"
MazThing . o O ( fixed ..if mobile )

Conversions and readers
minimusW says, "Every e-writer, I believe, has a conversion experience, when they realize there's something they can do on the computer that they can't do in print. Would it be interesting to share these experiences?""
Jill [to minimusW]: and how about readers? do you think they too have that point?
minimusW says, "Good question, Jill! I wonder. Fewer readers than writers, at this moment in time, I suspect!"
Jill [to minimusW]: do you mean that you think there are more writers of elit than readers of elit?
minimusW says, "Jill, yes, I think so. Really. Sadly."
elizabethj says, "Jill, minimus -- it's the same w/print poetry -- more writers than readers"
minimusW says, "Yes, elizabethj, I think you're right. I don't know whether this is a problem or not...some critics seem to think so."
Jill [to minimusW]: if there really are more writers than readers we should be thinking accordingly. Perhaps that's actually a good thing. At least it means we shouldn't treat elit as a one to many broadcasting thing

Deena says, "Yes, Robert, why did you do A Life Set for Two, Clues, and others in electronic format? What possessed you to spend years programming for these works?"
RobKendall says, "Deena, clues orginally existed as a series of poems that was published in printed magazines. I turned it into an interactive game because I wanted to give more emphasis to the problem-solving mystery game aspect of the poem"
Deena says, "Wes, what was your motive for writing Turning In as a hypertext?"
minimusW says, "Part of Turning In just HAD to be an eight-sided cube. That shape expressed exactly the point I was trying to make. The rest of the narrative had to find a form to suit that cube."

Deena says, "Everdeen, all, do you see more possibilities for collaboration in electronic lit? why?"
Everdeen says, "Deena, I don't see the definition of "Electronic lit" or "Elit" or "Eliterature" as requiring collaboration"
Everdeen says, "And since I am interested in collaboration...I don't use those terms for what I do"
Deena says, "Right Everdeen, but do you see more possiblities for collaboration?"
Everdeen says, "Deena, with respect to collaboration, the use of the web/internet permits a far greater range of possibilities"

Celebrating the Lone Reader
Jill [to elizabethj]: but there aren't REALLY. maybe it feels that way, but surefly not really... after all, i read elit and i don't write it. so obviously there are at least all the writers plus one reader, me :)
Easty says, "Interesting point - there does seem to be more writers than readers of elit! Judging by the amount of boring material available, it´ not surprising. As somebody has already mentioned, just putting a normal print version up on the screen is not going to advance the cause of e-literature."
Deena says, "Easty I totally agree. It is an interesting time, because we have to sort out the good and the boring... Have you read any that you like and would recommend?"
elizabethj says, "Hooray for you, Jill!"
Deena says, "Jill, what got you started in reading htlit?"
Helen claps at Jill.
Jill takes a bow as possibly the only reader.
minimusW decides to write everything from now on for Jill
Deena says, "Why did you spend so much time on your close reading of Afternoon...what benefits did you see in that reading that you would not get in a close print reading?"
Deena applauds Jill as a close and wonderful reader
Jill says, "I started reading elit when i was browsing through a web directory and found that "Hypertext literature" existed. i'd never heard of it. and so i had to investigate it. and i absolutely loved it..."
Jill says, "Since then i've read lots, but like with novels, i certainly don't like or bother to read everything."

The joy of the medium
Deena says, "Jill, all, what is there to like/love about this medium?"
Deena says, "What are the characteristics that keep us coming back and spending all this time on it?"
Deena says, "Rob, Wes, Helen, Maz, other writers, what are you doing in this medium that you can't do elsewhere"
Jill says, "I love the visuality, i think. and i love the mystery of links, i love wondering where something may lead and following clues. though i'æm not a fan of detective stories ;)"
Helen says, "For me it's collaboration, whether with another wriiter, with lots of other writers or with the reader"
RobKendall says, "I think multimedia (flash, etc.) can engage on a more visceral level than just print on the page. for me, music and movement adds the excitement of live performance."
elizabethj says, "I like the fact that it encourages minimalism."

Cross overs
jeansmith says, "My print novel will entice readers to the web to find essential info; there they will become involved in hypertext, and eventually returned to the print portion. does anyone know of other novels trying to cross-over"
Helen claps at jeansmith.
elizabethj says, "Sounds brilliant, Jean"
Deena says, "Jean, wow. the crossover sounds wonderful!~ Do you have a URL"
Deena says, "Could you describe your book more, Jean?"
jeansmith says, "No, it's all falling together, as i learn about it at trace, the mysteiy, the potential of layers"
jeansmith says, "It's a non-linear mystery with evidence of the crime on the web board right now"
Helen says, "Lots of children's novels are crossing over. I can provide URLs later if anyone's interested"
Deena says, "Helen, yes, could you send me a list of those URLs for the log?"
Deena says, "Jean, my Disappearing Rain is a novel on the web, I guess I could print out portions of it to use as a print work. But I was more concerned with linking and connections... Also, my triangulation was published as both a web piece and a print piece. We took one side of the triangle to print."

Engaging the reader
Deena says, "Rob, how does the multimedia engage the reader?"
RobKendall says, "Hypertext provides the chance to achieve a more highly resonant and open-ended sort of writing than is possible in print. the possible implications of any one segment of text are multiplied"
Everdeen says, "Rob, at base then, the critical definitive necessity for elit is the use of hypertext????"
RobKendall says, "Deena, multimedia engages the visual and aural senses in a way not possible with print. it also engages the part of our brain that deals with temporal information (movement and so on)."

Matching idea and medium
minimusW says, "Deena, I keep looking for what I've called elsewhere plenitude--a match between idea and medium. "
Deena says, "Wes, what do you mean by that kind of a match?"
minimusW says, "Plenitude is like the moment in a dance when you know, kinesthetically, that your body has occupied space and time in a pleasing rightness"
Jill [to minimusW]: i agree. the elit i love best belongs in the medium.
Deena says, "Wes, how does hypertext occupy space and time in a way that differes from traditional print?"
minimusW says, "Deena, I'm not sure that it does, necessarily; ANY medium can be occupied fully. But perhaps the novelty of emedia makes the fit (or lack of it) more apparent."
Deena says, "How does the possibility of change work for a reader?"
Everdeen says, "Jill how do you define "The medium"?"
MazThing says, "Deena...I've not studied such things but *for me* as a is perhaps like going to read the news or watch it....I do so because I think that ther might be...well, something *new*. And I see variation as a big pull. I don't know if this is general."
Elizabethj says, "I also like when it incorporates genuine indeterminacy."

More favorite pieces
Deena says, "Maz, all, have you signed up for the email story from Blue Company set to start in May?"
Jill says, "My favourite elit piece these days is online caroline -"
Jill says, "And i love that because it so totally belongs on the web: caroline is a lonely girl who wants friends and who uses a webcam and emeail to communicate with us readers."
Deena says, "Oh Jill, I have to look that one up. Sounds like Caitlin Fisher's These Waves of Girls in a way..."
Jill [to Deena]: well, it's not quite, but it's a fascinating piece. perhaps as much web soap opera as web literature.

Defining moments
Deena has been carefully skirting the tar pit of definitions...
Deena hands round soap opera bubble blowers to all
Jill laughs at Deena! "I hate definitions. and one thing i love about elit is that really, it's in between categories. a lot of it could just as well be called something other than literature.
Deena says, "Yeah, Jill, I have a bad feeling that this chat could well be, and so, how are movies different from sculpture..."
Jill laughs trying to think how to define movies as different from sculpture!
elizabethj says, "Deena, to some artists a movie might not be 'different' from sculpture, or they might not bother about the different, except using the material ... I agree with Jill -- not sure that definitions are all that useful??"
MazThing agrees with elizabeth that definitions don't particularly interest her....but they will have to interest people trying to market or provide venues for....well...whatever these things are
Deena hands round more movie and sculpture tickets
Jill says, "It's more interesting thinking about what elit (or sculpture) can do rather than about how it's different from X... "Though that's hard to do sometimes..." Jill laughs!
Deena hands around "Go directly to meaning, do not pass definition cards and get out of defining cards to all

Deena says, "Rob, the multimedia can define the reader's experience with tempo and pacing. how can we use that to evoke a different mood in the reader? "
RobKendall says, "Deena, tempo in an animated piece can establish mood on its own. A very fast tempo evokes a feeling of excitement and urgency. Slow tempo = repose, tranquility."
Deena says, "Rob, can you cite examples from your work?"
minimusW says, "Rob, at least until the medium overheats...e.g. Stuart Moulthrop's a certain point you stop trying to keep up"
RobKendall says, "Wes, I think hegirascope is deliberately trying to evoke a feeling of frustration through the overfast tempo"

Kernel of the matter
Everdeen says, "I just wonder if there is a kernel here...something which is necessary to eliterature (even if not sufficient)"
minimusW says, "Everdeen, I kinda doubt it...but it might be possible to figure out a small number of things...e.g. interaction, branching, animation of language, etc."
Everdeen winks at minimus "It's the other side of the coin"
RobKendall says, "Everdeen, I think the critical thing for elit is the use of either multimedia (audio, animation, video), interactivity (hypertext, reader collaboration, etc.), or generated text (text that is produced on the fly by the software)."
Everdeen says, "Rob, so a sort of movement or "Life" to the piece???"
Everdeen seeks the deeper meaning beyond form
elizabethj laughs
Jill nods to rob

New arrival to transform elit
Carlos arrives.
Jill says, "G'day Carlos!"
Jill grins!
Deena says, "Hi Carlos, we are talking about what makes electronic literature different from print literature, what we like about it so much that we are dedicating most of our lives to it..."
Deena says, "Carlos, what is your experience with electronic literature?"
Carlos says, "I'm an electronic reader, but I think elit, as we
experience today, just materialize things we did with print books, in some ways.""
Jill [to Carlos]: are you thinking of anything in particular?
minimusW says, "Carlos, what kinds of things?"
Carlos says, "Well, on print books we can read in non-linear ways, but this experience doesn't materalize it on book, only in reader's mind. In elit we can materalize this experience, but we can' modify the work in same way. Then, how transform eliterature after we read it?""
Deena says, "Carlos, what are some electronic works that you think provide this material experience?"
Carlos says, "Deena, I think is because elit, in some way, give me a chance to dialogue with authors, modify your works and give me a chance to be an co-author. But in hypertexts that I've experienced, this possibilities is too limited. I can't modify works, just navigate through them.""
MazThing says, "But the oportunity to modify and participate in writing is inherently available online, Carlos...if writers choose (and are able to) use it"
MazThing says, "The joining of reader and writer modes is one of the interesting things."

New and old
MazThing says, "But it's why we read our New email....rather than studying carefully the Old"
Deena says, "Maz, all, I wonder if we are continually wrapped up in the newer works that we are not seeing the older ones?"
minimusW says, "Deena, yes!!!"
Helen says, "We tend to prefer the term "New media writing" but what happens when "New" is no longer "New"?"
Deena hands round cards to cross out old, post, new pre, and modern rom all our dissertations
Jill [to Helen]: well, then "New" is old, like the french noveau roman, or, for that matter the NOVEL...
Deena on second thought, just hands around strawbverry and chocolate desserts for dissertations
Helen acknowledges a hit from Jill
Jill grins evilly
Deena laughs at the 400 year old newness of novel
Helen says, "Or New York...."
Deena passes round pictures of Canterbury's 600 year old New bridge
Margaret says, "Even if it is pure text and looks af it could be printed it stops being elit because once on paper it is fixed but while it is on the web it has potential for change"
Everdeen says, "Margaret, that is the point that bemuses me about CDs!"
Jill says, "Will it be post-new media do you think"
Deena hands round ante-post-new-pre-apres cards
Jill says, "That'd be interesting.."
minimusW says, "Would like the world to stop so he can get off."
minimusW says, "Oops, wrong punctuation"

Essential elements
Helen says, "If you assess students on reading or writing new media/elit then you have to define it -- they can't watch a film for example, and we can't say a new media work of 30,000 words for a dissertation, so we have to have DEFINITIONS! - at least an element of interactivity or multimedia or collaboration...."
elizabethj takes the point that there are pragmatic reasons for definitions
Everdeen nods agreement with Helen about definitions and connections to academia
minimusW knows it when he sees it and is on vacation and doesn't NEED to assess any students right now
Deena says, "Yeah, Helen, it all ties back to how and what we teach..."
Helen says, "If you offer a prize for best new media work you need defnitions - we can't avoid it ;("
Deena hands round wes' great glasses that know when they see it to all
Deena goes around with boing boing eyes
Deena says, "Ok, when you guys go to a party and someone asks, what do you like to do, and you say read electronic lit and they say what is that, what do you say?"
Jill laughs. "I was at a party like that last night. 'stories on the net' i say and then they say 'oh i
Helen says, "I've stopped going to parties, it's too difficult to explain"
Deena hands Helen a card saying it is too difficult to explain to pass out at her next party
Jill says, "They say 'oh i'm a professor of ray-patrolling super-nuclear gardenites' and we nod stupidly at each other and start talking about the weather..."
Helen says, "...and even my friends don't ask me what I write any more"
Deena laughs, yeah, I know what you mean, Helen. I know what you mean!
Jill says, "It's hard to explain. if i try i generally give a pretty thorough example and then they sort of half understand and say "That sounds very specialised" and i give up and start talking about gossip or the royal wedding or the middle east crisis instead."

Does the audience see it?
Everdeen says, "Deena, of course, that "Know it when I see it" is one of the very things which helps to put off some many new readers...."
minimusW says, "Why, Everdeen?"
Everdeen says, "Minimus, when someone asks, and receives an answer like creates a barrier....a sense of being outside the "Elite"..."
Everdeen says, "We have a responsibility to make access possible, to create understanding, if we want "Readers""
MazThing says, "Helen, also..wouldn't it be nice if there were a wider audience outside academic institutions perhaps....there the definitions don't matter so much but the access and directions too matter very much"
RobKendall says, "There must be a fairly good sized audience for elit. My word circuits site gets 3000-4000 unique visitors a month, and those figures are typical for a lot of elit sites. That's a lot more readers than most printed lit mags have"
Jill [to RobKendall]: that's a really valuable point, Rob
minimusW is extremely pleased to hear Rob say that
Deena says, "Wow Rob. maybe readers just read and don't think that anything unique is going on?"
Jill says, "I have the impression a lot of elit authors don't feel very confident that they have an audience"
minimusW rolls on the floor laughing at Jill's understatement
Jill grins at minimus
Deena says, "Jill, yes, do you think that is because of the web and serving it or because of the non-market/nonbusiness part of the elit publishing right now?"
Jill says, "I think a lot of readers are invisible except to the people who actually run the web sites"
Jill says, "When i look at a lit journal in a bookstore i assume they're important, while they may only really have 100 readers. a web site just doesn't have that feel of readership - yet."
Deena nods at Jill's wise perceptions.

Coming to elit
Deena says, "Carlos, all, how are people coming to this electronic literature? What was your first experience with the literature?"
Carlos says, "Deena, readings on childhood, scientific fiction, Jules Verne, and nowadays, I'm reading Borges, Joyce and books like that. Why are you asking me this?""
Deena says, "Carlos, I would like to know why people come to elit--what was your first experience with electronic literature?"
Helen says, "Margie's Incubation collaborative mystery drama M is for Nottingham? has been testing on newbies this week, and they keep saying to me: oh it's brilliant NOW I see what you mean! That kind of thing could be a fun intro to elit"
Deena says, "That is a great intro...we will have Margie on the chat next month June 15"
Helen grins and bows
Carlos says, "Deena, I think scratchbooks in electronic format can be an interesting way of literature. But when I say scratchbooks, I just think collaborative scratchbooks.""
elizabethj says, "Everdeen's right I think. Also I have come across a number of people who have seen one or two things and aren't impressed. To have a little repertoire of excellent and accessible pieces, with cogent explanations of why they're good, would be a help."
Jill says, "Yes, elizabeth, it would be really good to have more public discussion of elit. trad.lit is discussed in newspapers though hardly anyone reads it, but elit is only discussed on the web."
Deena says, "Elizabeth, you are right. I have a short intro here, but would like to add to it"
Everdeen says, "Elizabethj, what has been truly distressing to me is when people have been shut off from further inquiry by "Our".....desire to not be pinned down, to iceskate around the task of explanation...."
minimusW says, "Everdeen, I think the people I've seen become disillusioned are not those who are not given a definition, but rather who come to too narrow a definition too soon.""
Everdeen says, "Minimus, no, there are people who have been interested and shut's's a different group, but one which exists as well as those who have been given too narrow a defintion first"
elizabethj says, "I agree Ev. (But I also hate being asked to 'explain' my work, no matter on paper or whatever ...) I like the idea of a really good review. Not one that talks down and oversimplifies."
Everdeen says, "Minimus I think the danger lies in too narrow a definition which deals with *specifics* rather than primaries"
Deena says, "I wonder how many print writers and readers have to explain why it is they like what they are reading and writing?"
Jill [to Deena]: i once was asked to give a lecture on "Why i like hypertext" and it was a nightmare. it's really hard to pin it down.
Everdeen says, "Deena, are you thinking of classes or seminars or bookclubs or..."

Jill says, "The work elo's been doing is really important."
Helen says, "TrAce gets coverage in the computer sections of the paper but not in the literature sections"
Margaret says, "Perhaps that is because it belongs to the web and not to newspapers"
Deena says, "We need a New York Times book review on the web..."
Jill says, "Yes, but novels don't "Belong" in newspapers either do they? it's just what people are accustomed to, isn't it?'"
Deena displays slide #12 on WhatIsIt?:
Margaret says, "Yes, the review needs to be on the web"
Deena displays slide #13 on WhatIsIt?:<>.
Deena says, "On the side are also some great compendiums for elit"
RobKendall says, "I think the Electronic Literature Directory is a very valuable resource for introducing people to elit and helping to clarify what it is, what the different categories and forms are. We now have funding so we're back at work on improving the directory after a long hiatus"
jeansmith says, "The elo directory link over there doesn't seem to work"
RobKendall says, "The correct url is"
Deena applauds the electronic literature directory
Jill says, "The greater problem is probably that people haven't even considered the possibility that there could be literature outside of books and novels and poems."

Reading the whole thing
minimusW says, "And a review by people who have read carefully--I can't tell you how many bad web reviews I've read of e-lit--no one reading a print text would feel that they were justified in writing about a text without reading the whole thing"
jeansmith says, "Thanks"
Deena says, "Wes, maybe that is part of the problem. I never think I have read the whole thing..."
minimusW says, "Yes, but you wouldn't read a node or two and stop, would you?"
Everdeen says, "Print text reviewers often review without reading the whole's the nature of the beast"
Jill says, "Sometimes i read part of something and can't get any further and i'm left thinking that either i'm stupid and can't figure out how to get any further or else it's a really stupid piece of web lit...let me find an example.."
Jill says, "Here's an example:
Esfore-entropy Dancing Prey at "
Jill says, "I have NO IDEA whether i've read the whole piece or not but i can't make it do much"
Deena says, "Wes, no, I usually spend about a half hour, then if I don't like it, I don't read further or mention it. I am a tough reader"
Deena says, "Jill, yes, and then I confess, I usually don't go back to that work"
minimusW says, "But would you write a review of a text you'd given up on? I doubt it!"
Everdeen says, "Minimus, no I wouldn't"
Deena says, "I have to admit that it was only after your patient review of afternoon that I understood what I was missing. We need many more patient readers!"
RobKendall says, "Afternoon is a rewarding work if you have the patience. a lot of people start with that work because it's the most famous hypertext and are then put off by the navigational difficulties -- difficulties that aren't present in a lot of other hypertexts"
Jill nods to Rob, "I adore afternoon. The form perfectly fits the story, and it's so carefully and beautifully told.t
Carlos says, "Hypertext is non-linear, interactive in some ways, multimedia, topological writing. eliterature is more than that, or should be. why, when people discuss eliterature, they don't discuss what happens with characters and the time of narrative? elit happens in space, like hypertext, but it's not at all. Can we think eliterature as collaborative literature. Is this literature? " "

Getting lost
Helen says, "I just got lost in the Book of Going Forth by Day - I can't get any further than the opening page...."
Deena says, "Helen, I had to email Margie to figure out how to get past the opening."
Jill says, "Newcomers to elit who find something like that and don't get it (or maybe you can't get it) must just feel stupid and decide to hate elit in general..."
minimusW says, "True, Jill, very true."
Deena says, "Jill, yes, I shudder to think about the many different ways you can get lost and so much of it is your computer..Some works on Netscape 4 don;t work on netswcape 6, I never know if there is supposed to be sound..."
Jill says, "There's that too - as an author it must be quite daunting to think of how to challenge the reader but not lose her or him!"
Deena says, "I like the works that say up front, this is this big, it has this much sound, it runs like this and does this..."
Jill [to Deena]: I shudder to think of how many works i've missed in that way...
Deena says, "For example, I missed about 3/4 of Lexia to Perplexia and never know it until I talked with Talan..."
minimusW says, "I'm curious why Michael Joyce's Twilight, A Symphony is so little read. Or did I just miss people's reaction to it? It's better than afternoon, IMO."
RobKendall says, "Wes, twilight is only available for mac, so that eliminates most of its potential readers."
minimusW says, "Ah, I didn't know that."
Jill says, "I didn't enjoy twilight that much. i think it was the content matter that just didn't mesh with me. Which is NOT an informed and critical opinion of it, just my personal enjoyment ;)"
minimusW says, "But the prose is absolutely gorgeous"
Deena says, "Wes, I will spend more time with twilight. I confess, I loloked at it once and didn't get anywhere."
Jill [to minimusW]: yes, it probably is, but there are so many beautiful works that work for some people and not for everyone and for some reason twilight doens't work for me. Iwonder whether there truly are works that work for everyone? (people probably lie about shakespeare and joyce)
minimusW says, "Well, yes, you can't get anywhere. Just listen to the language...let it move you on non-rational levels first..."
Jill says, "I'll give it another go, wes, i promise ;)"
Deena says, "Jill, good point. I know folks who hate shakespeare, and I don't like some famous writers, myself..."
RobKendall says, "Ezra pound hated shakespeare"

Deena says, "Yes, I think there are some great classes--wes and rob teach them as well as others"
minimusW says, "Well, I teach one of the not-so-great ones, anyway"
Deena hasn't taken wes' course but likes wes' syllabus
Deena has taken rob's course and heartily recommends it
RobKendall says, "Thanks, deena"
Deena says, "At the writers workshop next month (June 12) we are going through Diane Slattery's Glide, together to see how a group criticism makes a difference..."
Jill says, "That's a great idea, Deena"
minimusW says, "I wish I could be there. It's a fascinating project.""

Wrapping up
Helen says, "So it's officially the end of our hour. You can leave if you like - or chat on....."
Margaret says, "Thank you for a thought provoking chat"
minimusW seconds the applause. and thirds
Deena hands round the pints of genius/gunniess
Margaret has disconnected.
Jill joins in the applause, and takes a sip of her G&T
Everdeen smiles thanks around to all
Deena applauds her guests, Jill Walker Reader extraordinaire and RobKendall Writer extraordinaire
Easty says, "Easty says, "Thanks" "
Deena says, "Easty, all thanks for coming!"
Easty has disconnected.
The housekeeper arrives to remove Easty.
The housekeeper arrives to remove jeansmith and to cart Margaret off to bed.
eansmith says, "Thank you for all the ideas, bye for now"
minimusW toasts to patience with Jolt cola
Helen says, "I'm off to bed. Fascinating though the chat is. Night all!"
Deena says, "I think it will be fun to see a piece from many different peopole's point of views"
MazThing thanks all and slips out.
RobKendall says, "Bye helen"
Helen has disconnected.
Deena says, "Helen thanks so much for hosting and we are looking forward to next monthc"
Everdeen says, "Night Helen, Maz"
RobKendall says, "Thanks for a great chat deena and helen."
Jill says, "I'm going to go to bed to, people, i'm jetlagged at it's nearly midnight... thanks for a great chat deena, helen, rob :)"
Jill blows kisses all round
minimusW says, "Yes, thanks--stimulating as always"
Deena says, "Thank you all for the wonderful has been a great deal of fun and we covered some new ground..."
Jill bows and exits discreetly (fascinated to know that ezra hated shakespeare..)
Jill has disconnected.
Everdeen says, "Thanks all good talk"
RobKendall says, "Bye jill"
elizabethj says, "Goodbye, thanks all"
minimusW says, "Bye all"
Carlos has disconnected.
The housekeeper arrives to remove Carlos.
Deena hands round parting glasses
minimusW has disconnected.
The housekeeper arrives to remove minimusW.
elizabethj has disconnected.
The housekeeper arrives to remove elizabethj.
RobKendall sipping his drink, rob says goodbye
Deena says, "Thanks rob!"
Deena says, "Good night all!""
The housekeeper arrives to remove RobKendall.
Everdeen makes like a tree and leaves.
The housekeeper arrives to cart Helen, Jill, and Deena off to bed.
laird goes home.

-- End log: Sunday, May 19, 2002 6:49:56 pm CDT

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