Chat Transcript: July 25, 2000

Intimacies, information, politics--how hypermedia can foster a community with Melinda Rackham.

Melinda Rackham is an artist, designer and writer residing in east coast Australia. Her award winning web sites have been widely shown both in Australia and Internationally - included in Beyond Interface, Arco Electronico, Gram, Arts_Edge, Perspecta99, Maid in Cyberspace, Transmediale2000 and Art Entertainment Network.

Her work, Carrier,recently received the $10,000 Faulding Award for Multimedia at the Festival Awards for Literature, Telstra Adelaide Festival 2000. Carrier investigates viral symbiosis in the biological and virtual domains by weaving an intimate love story between the viewer and the hepatitis C virus. The site integrates artificial and viral intelligence with immune system and computer operating system discourse within the swarming electronically networked nervous system of our planet - the world wide web, immersing the viewer in vrml worlds, shockwave games and java generated textual landscapes. sHe - the intelligent viral agent - crosses our species boundary, penetrating our cellular core, repositioning viral infection as positive biological merging with the flesh. We become symborg as the boundaries between human / machine / species dissolve.

MIT Press Reviews says "Melinda Rackam, in her particularly moving and beautifully composed web artwork, "Carrier" repositioned the hepatitis C viral infection as a positive biological merging with the flesh. She presented this merger as a love story between the invading virus and herself, its host.

Teri Hawkins at Real time says: "Australian Melinda Rackham is constructing a site around a theme of some currency. Carrier is about viral symbiosis, a play between the organic and machine. In an email Melinda wrote, "I've tried to create an intimacy in the language with an infectious agent applet at the bottom of the screen. This is the intelligence of the site and calls its self "SHe" and addresses you by the name you choose, questioning the user almost seductively as to their preferences, which then guide them through a specific and unique site pathway, dependent upon these answers." The graphics and sound are mesmerizing and I look forward to spending more time with this one on a machine faster than mine.

Related Links


Melinda quietly enters.

Melinda says, "Hi"

Janet says, "Hi Melinda"

Deena says, "Hey Melinda!"

Heidi quietly enters.

Mica arrives.

Deena says, "This chat will be archived--I'll clean it up with typos and stuff and post it at"

Deena hands round hot chocolate and cookies to all.

Deena says, "Janet, you can also share URLs by saying @URL"

Deena says, "Mica and Janet, what are your interests in electronic lit?"

Mica says, "I'm learning about it, and read curious"

Mica says, "Oops I mean am curious"

Janet says, "Well, I'm more interested in electronic communities per se than e-lit"

Deena says, "Great. This will be a chat about how the two converge..."

Mica says, "Ok :)"

Mica tries an emote

Janet says, "The post I saw about it on a listserv suggested it would be about the two"

Mica says, ":)"

Deena shares a URL for Melinda Rackham


Deena says, "Yes, Melinda, our guest, has merged two communities, a hepatitis community and her literature."

Deena says, "What do you guys see on the side?"

Melinda says, "I have my cv page up here"

Janet says, "I'm seeing what looks like a web page for that url, looks like your cv, Melinda"

Deena says, "Great. that was what I was hoping for."

Deena jumps up and down with relief

Melinda says, "Hey that's a great way to do things live"

Janet says, "It loads without any action on my part, automagic :)"

Deena says, "You can share URLs by typing @URL"

Deena says, "This way we can look and talk :)"

Mica says, "I'm through telnet so I'm looking through netscape"

Janet says, "Yeah, but go slow with the URLs, I'm on a 28.8 dial up, takes a while to load"

Deena says, "Good points."

Melinda says, "Mine was immediate..but I'm close to the server too"

Deena says, "Melinda, we might not be able to share too much from carrier..."

Deena says, "Janet and Mica, want to introduce yourselves?"

Deena says, "I am Deena Larsen, the host tonight. I have been interested in electronic lit for a long time, and I am fascinated about the way it weaves into electronic communities,"

Janet says, "I'm Janet Sternberg from NYU, I'm interested in virtual communities (including chat-based communities). I haven't studied literature per se since undergrad, my background now is media and communication theory"

Janet says, "I know some folks interested in hypertext fiction, though, including a colleague of mine at NYU, John McDaid who's written hypertext novel(s)"

Deena says, "Melinda, would you like to start us out with a description of the electronic communities built up for hepatitis?"

Deena [to Janet]: say Hi to John for me!

Melinda says, "Ok.. "

Janet [to Deena]: Will do :)

Melinda says, "When I first found I had hepc I was living in the country and had no support systems in the community and then I found the hepv-l list online"

Deena [to Janet,]: What communities have you seen on the web?

Beckett quietly enters.

Melinda says, "Which was amazing to have maybe 120 emails a day with info and support about my illness"

Deena says, "Hi Beckett, we are talking about electronic communities and literature with Melinda Rackham. "

Janet [to Deena]: I'm most familiar with IRC, I was an IRCop (wizard) on one of the big int'l IRC networks, was involved with general user community of Brazilians around the world, also some online jazz communities as well

Deena says, "Melinda, that sounds like a gho to a lot of people!"

Deena says, "gho = godsend, sorry!"

Melinda says, "Most of those people are in the states but spread over the world..form that list and others they get together in the flesh and some have both online and rl community"

Deena says, "Janet and Melinda, how have you seen online and real flesh communities interact?"

Melinda says, "I have also done irc stuff along time ago but more in the sense of a social connections and learning to use computer software, etc"

Deena's computer is sticky.

Janet says, "In my experience, with IRC and also listserv communities, there's a lot of crossover between online and off-line activities"

Janet says, "Most communities I've been in at least try to have f2f meetings from time to time"

Deena has disconnected.

Janet says, "Oops, guess Deena will BRB"

Melinda says, "I mostly hang out on mailing lists rather than in moos or irc, but it interesting when you get to meet people form the net how different they are from how I think they will be"

Janet says, "Yes, I agree, I've met literally dozens of people from IRC in real life"

Mica agrees

Janet says, "Also, the reverse: I've taken RL people I know and brought them online into electronic communities"

Melinda says, "Yes it's funny sometimes I just expect it"

Janet says, "Depends very much, IMHO, on the "Theme" or "Topic" of the community, there are some topics, I imagine, where people will be reluctant to meet f2f, others where they'll be eager"

Melinda says, "Janet, do they have a personality change?"

Janet says, "I was just gonna ask you that, Melinda :)"

Melinda says, ":)"

Janet says, "Well, I think when we see people's physical aspect, we can't help but change somewhat our impressions made exclusively online...."

Janet says, "But for the most part, I think people maintain similar "personalities" even if their physical persona is different than one expected"

Melinda says, "Since this publicity was sent out I've had a few emails from people with hcv as well which is great"

Janet says, "Rarely do I like someone online but not off-line, and vice versa"

Melinda says, "Yes I don't think they are ever unconnected-- it's just different aspects dominate maybe"

Deena has connected.

Melinda says, "I'm often shy and quiet off-line"

Heidi pats Deena on the head

Beckett says, "" Hi Melinda and Janet, hi Deena"

Janet says, "Agreed, some aspects like age, for example, I find are easy to disguise online, I've often talked to kids and we have no idea how old each other is"

Janet says, "Re-hi Deena"

Deena brushes herself off and starts gain.

Janet says, "Hi Beckett :)"

Beckett says, ""Howdy"

Deena says, "Hi Beckett. We are talking about the characteristics of online vs flesh communities"

Melinda says, "Yeah I use to hang out as a 17 year old boy when I was trying to learn tech stuff"

Janet says, "As a boy? :)"

Deena says, "Yet even with the anonymity, people confide their hopes and dreams online"

Janet says, "Gee, in my experience (I used a female nick on IRC), being female got lots of offers of help"

Deena says, "I wonder how common gender switching is?"

Melinda says, "Which felt nicely anonymous..back in the maybe 6 years ago when there was only like 10% women on the net and if you had a female nick you would be swamped with messages "

Deena notes that she/it is a spivak in the MOO..

Janet says, "I think people confide more almost because of the (relative) anonymity... there's a certain intimacy in text only that I think encourages people to be more open about deep questions, even if they're "hiding" more superficial aspects like gender and age"

Deena says, "Yep, I remember those days..."

Deena passes out the conundrum and contradiction glasses

Janet says, "Ahahah I know about the female nick swamped syndrome... on IRC, I think the first command female nicks learn is "Ignore" (= to gag here)"

Mica says, "Yes, I've had the same problem:)"

Melinda says, "Yeah.. but it started my making art on online identity"

Deena says, "Yes, how have things changed in the IRC or listserv communities in the last few years?"

Deena says, "Melinda, how did the online community influence your art?"

Tom arrives from Courtyard

Melinda says, "gee I don't think gender and age are superficial.."

Janet says, "I think the biggest change is size/volume... larger communities (harder to manage, btw) and more of them"

Deena says, "Hi Tom! We are talking about how online communities influence art"

Janet says, "Melinda, I mean superficial in the physical sense, things you can perceive in person more"

Deena says, "Have we separated more into different interest groups?>"

Melinda says, "Well my irc experiences and gender switching was where I made my net site tunnel .."

Melinda says, "Which is about cybersex really and the difficulties of translating net.fantasy into flesh life"

Deena says, "Do you have the URL for this work"

Janet says, "Ahhh cybersex, of course:)"

Deena says, "So many things start with the cybersex corners..."

Melinda says, "Sorry no url that will work, the server that its on has been crashed by and electrical fault and it not up again network..but late should get you there"

Deena says, "Well, we will post that for the archive and wait for it..."

Melinda says, "Oops the link from the page on the right will work again tomorrow.."

Deena hands out rain checks for the URL

Janet says, "But my impression is that there are plenty of online groups that are related to non-sexual concerns, support groups like for illness as Melinda has mentioned, but also for hobbies (e.g., music, cats, whatever)"

Deena says, "What was the reaction of the online community to the tunnel?"

Melinda says, "Absolutely.. anything you can think of.reason.."

Deena says, "Would these communities have been able to form outside of the computer?"

Melinda says, "Umm well... people think it is interesting as a piece of hypertext"

Janet says, "In many cases, I don't think they would have been able to form without the network, no"

Melinda says, "Some people read the sex transcripts and go no further"

Deena says, "My friend has an autistic child, and has said that the connections she makes there are the on,y things that save her sanity. And these are house bound people who cannot meet in the flesh."

Deena says, "Yes, it is silly to assume that people with the interest in sex would also be interested in the hypertext..."

Beckett says, "Is that some kind of joke?"

Melinda says, "Re community forming ..well there's always mail..which does form communities I saw a wo*,man on tv who donated a kidney to her penpal the other day"

Janet says, "I've also a friend with autistic child, she started getting so involved with online support, she started her own listserv now too, and reports it's all extremely helpful"

Deena says, "Your Carrier is a work about the Hepatitis virus in many ways. ( and much more...:) How have the hepatitis list people reacted to Carrier? Did you get similar responses as with the tunnel?"

Salmon breezes in.

Melinda says, "Interestingly since this call was sent out I've had a few responses.. people often tell me their stories, or ask how to get help."

Deena says, "Hi Salmon, we are talking about communities and their responses to the hypertexts that grow out of those communities"

Melinda says, "but I'm actually not on any lists any more because I can't handle the email volume around it"

Deena says, "Hmmm... that is interesting. So even a call for a chat can generate some interest in the subject"

Salmon nods and creeps in quietly.

Deena says, "So, you first started with a listserv, created electronic literature from that community, and now are off the listserves from the volume? This sounds familiar!"

Janet says, "I hear a lot of reports about burnout, from people on lists and chat too, when involvement generates too much mail/responsibility/time"

Deena says, "How do you keep track of the communities now, Melinda?"

Deena nods and thinks about the many lists she is no longer on

Melinda says, "It's the same when I talk about it in public lectures tho.. someone will always come up and tell me a story of either themselves or their fried etc who has hcv"

Deena says, "What do you think draws these people together? is it the common bond of the illness and struggle?"

Deena says, "What human ingredients do we need to create these kinds of communities? What starts these communities?"

Melinda says, "Yes I actually find it takes a real lot of energy to maintain those connections so I have had to exit form a lot of places. I think it is common.."

Beckett says, "It's great that your work is both a work of art and a resource for people to connect with both useful resources and other people. Has this always been a guiding principle of your work?"

Melinda says, "Beckett no not other work has been more about identity and relations online..but my new work empyrean will be a multi user VRML it will be in a way community forming as well"

Janet says, "I think what starts such communities is a common interest, whether an illness, a hobby, a same-age or same-gender or same-sexuality bond, whatever"

Melinda says, "The stating factor.. well common problem..its also with people you share a serious illness or problem with you can have humor about it that other people would find repulsive, things like that its bonding"

Deena says, "How have you translated these bonding moments of humor, insight, and information to your work?"

Janet says, "Yes exactly, bonding with others who share some common thing that you can't share with most people around you in RL"

Deena says, "Yes, this is really one of the first times we have brought together so many people with the same interests...""

Deena says, "Melinda, how will Empyrean form communities?"

Deena says, "And do you have a URL?"

Melinda says, "empyrean isn't released yet so I cant give a url sorry"

Melinda says, "A url but it will be"

Deena says, "I'll mark that as forthcoming :)"

Melinda says, "It will be out in two months as a single user world, then later in the year as multi user.."

Beckett says, "I'm interested in that concept from a planning perspective -- do you sort of set up the VRML, and then users mutate it with text additions?"

Melinda says, "Yes ..:)"

Deena says, "Sorry if you have said this, but how will Empyrean build communities?"

Deena says, "Ahh, so people will be able to add their thoughts?"

Melinda says, "With empyrean I'm not sure.."

Melinda says, "I'm working on the if you build it they will come principle"

Deena says, "This is a good principle. "

Melinda says, "But yes I build the space..which is about a parallel universe of being ..almost heavenly, and it will be an arena to play round in.."

Deena says, "Who are you hoping will come?"

Beckett says, "Is the piece going to have any kind of narrative through lines, or is that primarily a function of the architecture of the space itself?"

Melinda says, "I'm not sure how user interactivity will be yet, but I want it to be buildable"

Deena says, "Are you working with programmers so that readers will be able to build and add on easily?"

Melinda says, "People who are interested in inhabiting spaces textually, and people who are interested in I guess the philosophy of space and virtual architecture.. where the word is almost magical"

Deena sprinkles these magical readers throughout the audience so they can appreciate Melinda's work

Melinda says, "I'm getting the basic world scapes happening now.. the platform I think I will use is a v-net which is being re written atm to allow interaction"

Melinda says, "I'm not a programmer and I don't have funding to pay anyone-so I'm relying on what happens with it right"

Deena says, "Yes, that becomes difficult."

Deena sympathizes with Melinda.

Deena says, "Have you thought about archival issues? How will you keep what others have built?"

Beckett says, "You certainly seem to have picked up quite a few programming skills along the way"

Deena says, "Yes, the programming in Carrier is very impressive!"

Janet says, "What is the url for Carrier again, please?"

Salmon nod nods.

Melinda says, "um I think virtual space is an evolving thing I'm not sure about the archival snapshot type documentation.. its always difficult with ephemeral media like the net"

Beckett says, ""

Janet says, "Thanks :)"

Deena says, "What kind of communities do you see forming around works of literature like empryean or carrier"

Beckett says, "In some ways art and lit on the net are more like theater than they are like paintings or novels"

Melinda says, "Damien Everett from RMIT did the java for me on this with a little bit from John Tonkin as well..I can read languages and know how they work enuff to know was possible but I can't necessarily write them except by cut and paste"

Tom says, "I'm interested in the process"

Deena says, "Yes, Beckett and Melinda, the ephemeral nature of the net really does defy archiving in many ways."

Deena says, "Tom, in the process of creating the works or the community?"

Tom says, "The process of netart as well as a community - I'm a psychologist"

Deena says, "Janet, have you seen many communities form around specific projects or works?"

Janet says, "Not specific works or projects no, more like specific events perhaps, or specific ongoing interests"

Melinda says, "With Carrier, it's a resource for existing communities.. with Empyrean I hope it will be terra forming a new one..I have a mail list set up but I wont call for participation for awhile yet"

Tom says, "In RL communities tend to form and then fall apart"

Salmon says, "I'm not so sure about the net defying archiving. sometimes the net seems like one huge archive to me."

Deena says, "Melinda, are you looking for a community of reader/writers with empyrean? a community to build the work itself?"

Deena says, "Tom, do you see that same tendency in online communities?"

Salmon [to Tom]: Do you find that communities function differently online in this aspect?

Melinda says, "Yes I think there is that evolving aspect.. that one arena will be active for awhile then die a natural death and some other things will form from it"

Deena smiles back at Salmon

Deena Passes around large libraries to archive the ever changing nets.

Deena throws in some fishing nets while she's at it

Heidi . o O ( salmon watch out! )

Salmon edges nervously away from the nets.

Deena makes sure they are salmon proof

Tom says, "One difference is that online communities often build an archive or list of links which then stay"

Deena says, "Tom and Janet, how do you see these archives of links and lists affecting new comers?"

Salmon nods at Tom and thinks of the ghost-town like qualities of "Dead" online environments.

Deena says, "Do you want to have a picture of how the communities evolve"

Melinda says, "Deena yes I am wanting writers to participate in building some scapes in Empyrean..can I send out a call here in a few month when I'm up to that stage?"

Deena says, "Yes, please send it to me and I can pass it on to the writers lists..."

Melinda says, "Ok will do thanx.."

Deena says, "Yet, sometimes it is hard to tell the ghost towns from the real living towns. Melinda, how will you manage empyrean?"

Salmon has disconnected.

Deena reels in her nets and is sorry about that

Melinda says, "I like that think that Pat Cadigan said may years ago about the net being like a big sewer full of crap floating round which you had to avoid.."

Janet says, "Well, like anything, there are pluses and minuses to the archives, allows people to see what's gone before... but at same time, may make some people feel they've missed a lot?"

Deena says, "Do people go through the archives and use them or just avoid them like the sewers?"

Salmon has connected.

Deena is relieved the fishnets didn't get Salmon

Melinda says, "I plan also to have it ported into a museum space so real world users can interact with people online.. but if no one is there then no one is there..I don't think I like bots who say hello.."

Deena says, "Yes. I have my piece, Marble Springs, in a real museum right now, so people can interact with it in real space..."

Janet says, "I never use archives of groups I'm in myself, but I do look at archives of other groups that I might not belong to"

Tom says, "I'm not talking of archives so much as I am of information sources like you find with health and mental health"

Deena says, "Hmm, yes, I think people look more at the info sources. But sometimes you stumble across archives in search engines."

Melinda says, "I like to know archives are there and I sometimes use them like these a vrml event that I can't get to cause of time difference so I read the archives"

Janet says, "Well, with info sources, then I think archives are very useful"

Janet says, "Or special events, like a particular online meeting or something one couldn't attend, then archive is great"

Deena says, "Melinda, how do you use them as VRML events?"

Deena is puzzled

Deena says, "Yes, more people have used the archives for the ELO chats then have gone to the chats!"

Beckett says, "When I was working with, I found that archive material often had an afterlife, usually as a result of sporadic linking well after the event or article. It has a usefulness that you often don't see realized until a year or two later. "

Deena has to find a planet with time zones when everyone is awake at the same time

Melinda says, "The one I am referring to has the text is archived with screen shots"

Deena says, "Which brings us back to archiving.."

Deena says, " the listserv mail in Carrier?"

Melinda says, "Yep I'm interested in that afterlife.. the net as heaven, a cemetery, a memorial, "

Deena says, "I know this is changing the subject, but I have been curious. Why did you combine the list mail with the text and fiction in Carrier?"

Deena says, "Yes, the words hang on here in cyberspace long after we have gone on..."

Janet says, "Deena, I'm not surprised about more using the ELO archives than chats, I had similar experience with archives of chat sessions with jazz artists at the site, more people browsed archives than attended the chat (not only time zone difficulty, but also application difficulties (getting IRC client or RealPlayer to work, etc)."

Melinda says, "In Carrier it's one of the things which really builds intimacy and really affects people.."

Deena feels better now.

Deena and admits she goes through archives of chats herself...

Beckett says, "Or they fly and disappear. (words on the net) -- it's a kind of strange temporal sponge that leaves a lot to chance."

Deena nods at Melinda. "Yes, I really felt connected to the people after reading the letters. Did you take them from the listserv?"

Janet says, "For synchronous stuff like chat sessions (whether IRC or M*), asynch archives or summaries circulated on listservs, etc are great"

Melinda says, "It's like the email is to you personally, its sort of a thing I used in an earlier work "line" as well"

Melinda says, "The url is for this on <>"

Deena says, "Yes Beckett, should it be left to chance?"

Deena says, "And, in a way, the asynch stuff then becomes part of the works of lit"

Beckett says, "I think it would be cool to be able to search archives of the net by year. "

Melinda says, "Yeah..luv it when it works.."

Deena is busy looking over the line.

Melinda says, "It was a work about an online relationship from 1997 it's an archive really..:)"

Deena says, "Do time elements matter in building these communities and keeping and searching these archives?"

Deena says, "How do we use time in these communities?"

Melinda says, "I've found that with new browser versions works don't work always like they did in earlier versions which is annoying"

Deena says, "Yes, and it is worse for us with older browsers!"

Janet says, "Or 28.8 connections :P"

Deena says, "Forgive the asynchronous timing here, but we were talking about the web as a cemetery, and I wanted to share Mark Bernstein's comments on this:"

Deena shares a URL...


Janet says, "gee, I never thought about web shrines, but the idea doesn't seem improbable at all, quite the contrary, it's a perfect fit"

Beckett says, "I'm fascinated with the sheer variety of media that you explore in your different works. I'd imagine that most of your projects necessarily involve community, just to create them"

Melinda says, "Hey thanx"

Deena smiles at Beckett

Deena says, "Yes, Melinda, what advantages do you see in working wand exploring this wide variety of media?"

Deena says, "Obviously your work won't work in print, and it is fascinating to see the way you weave the art and language and communities together..."

Tom says, "Have to go as usual - bye all"

Deena says, "Thanks for stopping by Tom"

The housekeeper arrives to remove Tom.

Melinda says, "I need to work with other people a lot to get projects done cause I don't have all the skills.. so yes that is community's also tiring trying to learn new stuff constantly "

Melinda says, "It was so easy when I was sculptor..the materials didn't change form year to year"

Deena says, "Will be right back after she restarts her engine."

Deena has disconnected.

Melinda says, "But software changes every 6 months"

Janet says, "Web software is the worst, all those plug ins :)"

Melinda says, "Yes web works look weird in print.."

Deena has connected.

Beckett says, "Gizmos and widgets have that problem of multiplying so fast its hard to figure out how you want to (or even can) use them before the next version comes out, or the company that makes it get bought out and it disappears altogether . . ."

Deena says, "Yes, Melinda, how do you feel about the ephemeral nature of these media?"

Janet says, "Probably one reason text still hasn't gone out of style, still the lowest common denominator on the net"

Melinda says, "Yes..Carrier needs plugins and I worried about that for ages..then I made a text only version with the raw info in it so it was accessible to everyone"

Deena shakes her head ruefully and thinks of all her work that is too antique in just 5 years

Deena says, "Could you give us the URL for the text only version?"

Beckett says, "But it is interesting to think of the challenges involved in moving web work to print -- it's an interesting design challenge and also a reversal that has yet to be extensively explored."

Deena says, "Right Janet, we should stick with what can be read for a while :)"

Deena says, "Yes, how to translate a web work to paper is going to be vexing. How do you keep the structure, the connections, the relationships?"

Melinda says, ""

Deena shares a URL...for information on hepatitis C:


Deena says, "Do you see many differences in the text only version and the plug in version?"

Janet says, "Well, if you want stuff to be most universally accessible even in less privileged parts of the world where a 2400 modem is a blessing, and lynx is all you have for web... then it's good to keep text in mind, no matter how much more sophisticated the graphics/animation/sound possibilities"

Deena says, "How do you see reader experiences differing in each"

Melinda says, "There also a self navigate version, where if you don't have the required plugins it doesn't matter cause you can just click away at the bottom menu"

Salmon wonders if anyone would want to do this translation. Have there been books made of movies that become a work of art in their own right?

Deena says, "I agree, the tradeoff really is accessibility against using mediums to express ideas that cannot be shown in any other way"

Deena tosses Salmon 2010 by Arthur C. Clarke

Salmon catches the bookie.

Deena wonders how to get hypertexts like Carrier translated into movies

Janet says, "I can think of a photograph that turned into a movie/documentary.... a famous photo taken in Harlem of jazz greats, later an emmy-winning documentary now on video I think"

Melinda says, "Umm well it's sorta filmic to start with"

Janet says, "Yes, true, but it was a single photo, and the documentary filled in all kinds of stuff about the people in it, including the music of those in the picture (mostly musicians)"

Deena says, "We have always had these difficulties in translating to other medium..."

Janet says, "So the documentary ended up quite far from the photo in terms of what content was conveyed"

Beckett says, "I'm interested in the idea that there could be web works that are also other things--segments of an other holistic thing -- as lines appears to have been both its own thing and connected to an event and installation."

Deena says, "Right, I don't think you get the same content and meaning in a different medium"

Melinda says, ""

Deena shares a URL...for tours to Maui


Janet says, "Another place where text/image/sound for web comes up a lot is discussion of Web access for the disabled"

Janet says, "Making web content perceivable for hearing/vision impaired, for example"

Melinda says, "Yes I used to be on design lists where that was quite an issue.."

Janet says, "I don't think it's possible to have SAME content and meaning in different media; to me, a difference in medium will involve at least some (even if tiny) difference in content/meaning"

Deena says, "Yes, making content accessible through many mediums again requires a balance between what the mediums can do and what the audience can access.."

Janet says, "I don't think art and disability access have same focus, of course, but they may share some concerns about what sorts of content are best communicated in which medium"

Deena says, "Janet, I agree --"

Deena says, "Melinda, how do you balance art and content? And accessibility and medium?"

Deena says, "It is interesting, that in this chat, we have really focused on the methods of delivery rather than the message itself. Carrier is a powerful piece about this life threatening illness. Do you ever find that the delivery medium overwhelms the content and the message?"

Janet says, "Hmmmm to me this is not so strange, I'm sympathetic to Marshall McLuhan's saying that "The medium is the message""

Melinda says, "I heard McLuhan there too..:)"

Deena says, "Yep, we have had writers conferences at the last 4 ht conferences: medium morphs the message, message morphs the medium, etc."

Deena says, "Where did you hear McLuhan speak and is there a URL?"

Melinda says, "Carrier was supposed to be much more technically sophisticated than it is..but I realized it wouldn't work well its always a balance.."

Deena says, "Ahh, what plans did you have for Carrier?"

Janet says, "Sorry but it's the late Marshall McLuhan, but his work has been carried on by a lot of people in communication/media theory"

Melinda says, "Ohh I meant metaphysically rather than physically"

Beckett says, "I'll be there's McLuhan audio on the net"

Deena blushes.

Janet says, "Two other favorite McLuhan aphorisms on this subject: "The 'content' of a medium is like the juicy piece of meat carried by the burglar to distract the watchdog of the mind." and "The 'content' of any medium blinds us to the character of the medium.""

Melinda says, "See he lives in cyberspace..:)"

Deena says, "So cyberspace is a living cemetery and shrine..."

Janet says, "Hang on, I can find at least 1 URL for you"

Salmon smiles.

Janet says, "I know there's a McLuhan listserv and probably site up at Univ Toronto where he was from"

Melinda says, "Carrier was supposed to be database generated ..sort of total viral interaction..but it would work in a gallery but was too random for the net.."

Beckett says, "I think we're in the midst of a period where a lot of work is intended to be more technically sophisticated than it ends up. It's a time of jury rigging"

Deena nods.

Deena says, "Did you find that you had to give up content and meaning for the jury rigging?"

Melinda says, "No more the content won out really over the bells and whistles"

Deena says, "How did you balance between the two?"

Melinda says, "With empyrean I'm building it for a year or two ahead in mind so I can be a little more adventurous than I could if it was for multi-user release now.."

Janet says, "At you can find some stuff related to McLuhan, I think"

Deena says, "Thanks Janet"

Melinda says, "Thanx"

Janet says, "Melinda, before the web, what was the main sort of art medium (media) you worked with?"

Deena says, "When you build a year or two ahead, does this mean with the technology or the process of making it flexible for the community building?"

Melinda says, "I was sculptor.."

Deena nods

Deena says, "I can see the three dimensionality in the web works!"

Janet says, "Ahhhhhh tactile, very interesting, definitely one of the harder ones to "Transfer" to web"

Beckett says, "Thanks a lot Melinda, Janet, I look forward to spending more time with your work. And a huge sweeping bow to Deena, for the being such a great chat host. Bedtime for Beckett. goodnight."

Janet says, "bye Beckett!"

Deena says, "Yes, any last thoughts to leave us with, Melinda?"

Melinda says, "So I've always worked in 3d space.. and I think bandwidth grows in huge leaps and bounds so making bigger things is possible in advance..with opengl #d will be better soon too"

Deena says, "BTW, your work is really superb, and I think you have done a great job in balancing the content, bells, and mediums"

The housekeeper arrives to remove Beckett.

Melinda says, "gee thanx:)"

Janet says, "I'm about to get disconnected by my ISP... but thanks to you Melinda and Deena"

Melinda smiles

Deena says, "Right, we will say good night to all."

Deena says, "Thanks for coming!"

Melinda buy everyone..good to talk to you

Janet says, "I enjoyed very much this chat even if I'm more into form than content ;)"

Deena says, "Our next chat will be August 19 with Maggie"

Salmon says, " thanks again!""

Deena says, "Glad you liked it. "

Janet says, "Deena, I'll email you to ask you for the chat log ok?"

Deena says, "Check out eliterature at for the finished archive and a list of new chats"

Salmon goes home.

Deena says, "Yes, please email me at"

Janet says, "Will do :)"

Deena says, "I'm going to stick around the moo and clean up--I have a flight tomorrow."

Janet waves to all :)

Janet wishes Deena a good flight to wherever!

-- End log: Tuesday, July 25, 2000 9:23:12 pm CDT


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