Chat Transcript: September 27, 2000
Hypertext on the Holodeck with Janet Murray

Janet H. Murray Professor and Director Laboratory for Advanced Computing Initiatives School of Literature, Communication and Culture Janet Murray teaches information design in the Information Design and Technology Program in the School of Literature, Communication and Culture.

Her main interest is interactive narrative, including digital television, virtual reality, video games and hypertexts, which is found in her recent book, Hamlet on the Holodeck: The Future of Narrative in Cyberspace. Other research interests include interactive design, educational computing, Victorian studies and applications of advanced computing environments. She began her career as a scholar of English narrative, and has published several volumes detailing the lives of Victorian women. This work grew out of her interest in what was left out of the great Victorian novels -- what could not be said within the conventional narrative and cultural structures of that time and place. She is drawn by the new digital medium because -- like the book or the movie camera before it -- it expands our ability to capture human experience and holds the promise of expanding human understanding and human sympathies.

She has been working with advanced computing environments since the early 1980s when she became inspired by the early work of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Media Lab to initiate projects in humanities computing that formed some of the first explorations of educational "Multimedia." She attempted this work because of her training by IBM as a systems programmer in the late 1960s. She is still involved with producing and designing educational computing projects at MIT, including the web-based Jewish Women's Archive. Janet has a Ph.D. in English and American Language and Literature from Harvard University.

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-- Start log: Wednesday, September 27, 2000 7:48:11 p.m. CDT

Deena says, "Hi Smyth"

Deena says, "Sure Janet, it is a rough interface, I know..."

Deena says, "Did you do a lot of MOOing to research Hamlet on the Holodeck"

Janet Murray says, "I just found a cute button that lets me "say" without quotes..."

Deena says, "Right, you can also emote without quotes too, the button below say"

Deena passes tea and sugar cookies

Janet Murray jumps for joy

Janet Murray grabs cookies like crazy.

Janet Murray says, "Tell me about what goes on here... what's the most weird thing that ever happened in this room?"

Deena says, "Well, we had a couple of motorbikes crash through the walls... "

Deena says, "No, I am just joking"

Smyth absorbs a cookie osmotically, like a cell.

Deena hands out more cell like goodies and raids Neelix's kitchen

Deena says, "We have some wicked senses of humor"

Janet Murray revises her mental model of Smyth.

Smyth says, "I wonder if Deena's watching tv at the same time as she's MOOING...."

Salmon quietly enters.

Salmon breezes in.

Deena says, "Hi Salmon"

Smyth waves to Salmon.

Deena tosses her tv out the window and looks askance at the suggestion.

Salmon smiles and says, "Hi" to all.

Janet Murray looks around curiously.

Smyth likes to watch Neelix on occasion.

Deena says, "Did you guys see the episode of Star Trek where Barclay reaches Voyager by using a holodeck?"

Smyth says, "Yes! can't remember the details though. . . ."

Salmon shakes her head.

Janet Murray is miserable she missed it. She is glum for the rest of the evening

Salmon comforts Janet.

dglen quietly enters.

dglen arrives.

Deena says, "Janet, have you seen other episodes where the crew uses the Holodeck to solve real life problems?"

Deena says, "Do you think that the new medium can be used to solve these kinds of problems?"

Janet Murray says, "Which ones are you thinking of?"

Deena says, "I was thinking about the episodes where the crew uses the holodeck to manipulate scenarios, like a huge simulation chamber"

Deena passes out tv antennas, holodeck aprons, and Star Trek lunch boxes

Smyth says, "I'm gonna log off and log back on with my shiny new character. . . ."

Smyth waves goodbye for a moment. . . .

Janet Murray says, "Do other people know what Smyth looks like (as Smyth)?"

Deena peers after Smyth and wonders mightily

Salmon shrugs. "No.. this is the first time I've seen Smyth..or not seen..."

Janet Murray wonders if it is polite to ask if Salmon is a fish

Surreal_Guest quietly enters.

Surreal Guest arrives.

Deena says, "Sure. The fun thing is that people can be anything"

Deena says, "Welcome Surreal. We are chatting with Janet Murray, author of Hamlet on the Holodeck and more"

Salmon surreptitiously picks at a scale or two...

Deena tiptoes out.

Janet Murray reminded of Lily Tomlin saying she knew she could grow up to be anything but she should have been more specific.

Salmon [to Janet Murray]: Actually, the Salmon is in reference to the colour.. which is in reference to a pair of favourite shoes.. which brings with them a long story.

z-akrobat quietly enters.

z-akrobat arrives.

RSmyth arrives.

Deena quietly enters.

Janet Murray wonders about the Salmon shoes

Salmon laughs. "I love that quote."

RSmyth says, "Howdy. I'm back. like my new shiny character?"

AndrewS quietly enters.

Janet Murray says, "Is there a place to call up a description?"

RSmyth says, "Yes--type look <character>"

AndrewS says, "Hi Janet, hi everybody"

Cheryl quietly enters.

Deena says, "Hi all, we will be chatting with Janet Murray tonight. We are just getting warmed up now"

Janet Murray says, "Hi Andrew. Do I know you in another life?"

Deena passes out hot cider and Neelix's unknown grasshopper stew

AndrewS says, "Yes you do... :)"

RSmyth crunches on a blue grasshopper and thinks of a poem by Mary Oliver.

Deena says, "I need to reconnect, can't see anything"

Deena has disconnected.

Cheryl sips hot cider

RSmyth recites "And what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?"

Janet Murray says, "Do you have many pet..z?"

RSmyth says, "I have a dust bunny and a scaredy cat"

Deena has connected.

Salmon blinks.

AndrewS says, "Yes"

RSmyth says, "Oh--and the quick brown fox and the lazy dog. I must not forget them. . . ."

Deena says, "Sorry about that. My buffer was full"

Cheryl says, "My cat has joined us as well"

Deena says, "My cat is on my lap as well, which is affecting my typing"

Deena thinks anything for an excuse!

Cheryl laughs

RSmyth says, "My dust bunny is in between."

Cheryl just came from line dancing. Scary.

Janet Murray says, "If one of these characters was a bot would people here know the difference? "

Cynthia quietly enters.

RSmyth waves to cynthia.

Century_Guest quietly enters.

Deena says, "Well, looks like we have a healthy bunch here."

AndrewS says, "Are we all just characters to you? :)"

Deena sidles up to AndrewS and hands him an alphabet stew.

Janet Murray says, "Some more than others"

Deena says, "We are chatting tonight with Janet Murray, author of Hamlet on the Holodeck"

Deena says, "Janet, would you like to catch us up on what you have been doing lately?"

RSmyth listens eagerly

Janet Murray says, "I have been heading the Georgia Tech Information Design and Technology grad program beginning this semester."

AndrewS tosses out the z with a quick flick of the wrist.

RSmyth says, "do you know Amy of Moose Crossing?"

Deena says, "Also, please introduce yourselves, so we know who we are talking with--what a bunch of characters we are..."

Century_Guest waves hi all

Janet Murray says, "I know Amy well.. I followed her from Cambridge to Atlanta.... that is, when I realized Amy was at home here I figured it was safe for me too."

Deena says, "Hi Century, we are introducing ourselves"

RSmyth says, "Howdy all"

Century_Guest I am Tom Bell

Salmon smiles.

AndrewS says, "I'm a Janet Murray groupie"

Deena says, "Hi Tom!"

RSmyth says, "Tell Amy that Richard Smyth said hello from Boston!"

Cheryl laughs.

Janet Murray grins back at Cynthia and smiles warmly at all, hiding her sleepiness

Deena says, "Andrew, are you the Andrew Stern of dogz and catz?"

Janet Murray waves I'm an Andrew Stern fan.

AndrewS babbles and barks "Yes"

RSmyth says, What's dogz and catz?"

Cynthia says, "I'm Cynthia Haynes...of Lingua MOO and UT-Dallas."

RSmyth is out of the loop

Janet Murray says, "Everyone should buy Andrew's BABYZ"

Deena says, "We had an ELO chat with Andrew a while back. The archives are up on the ELO website at This chat will be archived there as well"

RSmyth says, "Cool"

Janet Murray says, "Even though it is very disturbing to raise a virtual baby."

Deena says, "Andrew, please share the URL for babyz."


Deena shares a URL...<>.

Janet Murray says, "Deena asked me before what had changed since Hamlet on the Holodeck came out"

Deena says, "Not to mention buying babies"

Janet Murray says, "One of the things that changed was that there are more virtual characters."

Janet Murray says, "The tamagotchi came out the same time as Hamlet on the Holodeck."

RSmyth says, "I'm Richard Smyth...."

Deena thinks about the time schedule and time frame...

Janet Murray says, "Hi Richard."

Janet Murray says, "Are you in England?"

Deena says, "Hi Richard. Would everyone like to introduce themselves."

RSmyth says, "Used to be professor of English at Hamline University . . .where I used the MOO in my English courses . . . .But then experienced some ugly politics and got derailed from the tenure track. . . ."

AndrewS suggests we post Janet's URL,

Deena shares a URL...<>.

dglen says, Isn't there a new URL for HAMLET ON THE HOLODECK at Georgia?"

Janet Murray says, "No, my Georgia tech one:"

Janet Murray says, "There is a new book resource page too, made by my more visual GT students"

Deena shares a URL...<>.

z-akrobat says, "Hi! I'm Toni Sant following this from New York City."

Janet Murray says, "it is linked off the gatech site"

Editor's Note: This probably refers to examples of student work

Cynthia holds up a BIG sign:


| | LOOK to get your room |

| description back |


AndrewS says, "look"

Cynthia says, "without the quotes"

slats quietly enters.

Janet Murray says, "I just figured out how to get the bios."

Cheryl wonders if anyone is going to the Eastgate conference on Flash and narrative.

RSmyth says, "Where is the Eastgate conference?"

Cheryl says, In Boston Nov. 11-12"

nm ducks in. nm says, "Hello, sorry to be late."

RSmyth says, "Really! I work in Boston. Does it cost $$--how much?"

Janet Murray says, "I'm delighted to know that Eastgate is doing a flash conference."

Deena says, "Janet, I have been having browser problems. The bios for what?"

RSmyth says, "What's a flash conference?"

Cheryl says, "Yeah, it's about $395. but I'm sure it'll be worth it."

RSmyth says, "Yikes! "

Janet Murray says, "Do people know of examples of cool flash narratives?"

Cheryl says, "It deals with Flash software"

Janet Murray says, "Are they teaching the software?"

Cheryl says, "The conference is dealing with how flash inter/counter-acts with narrative on the web"

RSmyth says, "Like shockwave flash?"

Deena says, "Janet, all, what do you think about the influx of new tools like flash on new media? How does it affect the literature?"

Cheryl says, "My favorite site right now is"

Deena shares a URL...<>.

nm says, "There's"

Janet Murray says, "Glad to hear about poems that go. A student of mine Patrick Ledwell did a lovely flash sequence on Wallace Stevens' Blackbird poem"

Deena says, "I don't think Eastgate is teaching the FLASH, they are just going to talk about how it affects new media."

Cheryl says, "Deena, you're the greatest!"

Janet Murray says, "We decided he had invented the Flash Haiku"

Cheryl meant about getting the site up so quickly

Deena Bows and tries to peer through her browser problems

Deena hands out flash and moving poetry for all

z-akrobat says, "The best flash piece I've seen is a parody of the elain AP photos using the wassup Bud ad soundtrack. have you seen that?"

Deena says, "Janet, what is flash haiku, and do you have a URL?"

Janet Murray says, "I think it is an excellent thing that Eastgate is getting Flash-y because it opens up the possibility of people taking advantage of the procedural (rule making ) affordances of the medium, ,which to me is the medium"

nm <-- Nick Montfort, by the way

Cheryl says, "To z-akrobat I haven't seen that"

Janet Murray says, "I have decided that HYPERTEXT is a LEGACY format, like printed books."

RSmyth recites "On a stiff twig up there hunches a wet black rook"

Cheryl whoops that didn't come out right

Deena says, "Janet, all, how has flash and other animated programs affected the rule making in literature?"

RSmyth recites some more: "arranging and rearranging its feathers in the rain"

Century_Guest says, "I've been avoiding flash and flashy stuff like the plague"

Deena says, "Cheryl, what is z-akrobat"

RSmyth says, "what do you mean by "rule making?"

Deena says, "Janet, why is hypertext a legacy format?"

Cynthia says, "There is a Lingua resident here named Jane Love, whose rooms are using flash and poetry...along with sound. You can browse her space later if you Lingua type @go Naxos"

Deena Thinks the legacy didn't last too long!

z-akrobat says, "here's the URL for that elian parody:"

Janet Murray says, "I mean the essence of the computer as a medium is that you can represent the world in the form of conditioned behaviors, contingent behaviors. "

RSmyth says, "Did that Jane love go to the university of florida? she sounds familiar..."

Cynthia [to RSmyth]: yes, she's there

Cheryl says, "I screwed up my "To" phrase. don't know how to talk to someone individually"

Cynthia [to Cheryl]: type 'to Deena whatever' (without the single quotes)

Janet Murray says, "To make narrative that is truly digital narrative involves using the rule-making power of the computer. "

Cheryl [to Cynthia]: thanks

Deena says, "Yes, what is rule making here?"

Janet Murray says, "Rules of behavior. Programming languages. If/then. Objects with behavior and attributes that change."

Deena [to Cheryl,]: why are you troubled by Flash?

Cheryl says, "I've always been troubled with flash...because of the lack of interactivity I've been able to program into my poems with it"

Salmon says, "and randomness?"

Janet Murray says, "NO NOT RANDOMO"

slats says, "I'm about to embark on trying to use genetic algorithm of some sort to 'evolve' the glyphs of a visual language. Wish me luck."

Janet Murray says, "TYPO FROM RAGE"

Salmon shrinks.

nm says, "Randomness is just one rather simplistic rule"

Deena says, "Tom, you have used Flash, what do you think that animation adds to the meaning of the work?"

Janet Murray feels remorseful and settles down a little but is still sure she is right, as usual.

Deena says, "Yes, how do we get interactivity with animation and other push technology"?"

RSmyth j

Janet Murray decides to try harder to explain.

Deena wonders why Janet feels remorseful

Century_Guest says, "For me the process of animation is what counts and if I use flashy software I lose the process."

Janet Murray says, "Because salmon shrank"

Deena settles in to listen and passes out legacy tapes, which keep moving faster and faster.

RSmyth reads from his book titled THE LAWS OF FORM by G. Spencer-Brown: "A universe comes into being when a space is severed or taken apart."

AndrewS wonders if digital narrative writers are willing to learn to program (it's not that hard! :)

Janet Murray too busy laughing at Deena's wit to talk

nm says, "Road rage on the information superhighway"

Deena says, "To Andrew, think about Rob Kendall, Jim Rosenberg, who program from scratch. We are willing to do some."

RSmyth says, "I is."

Cheryl says, "While I like learning some programming, it takes up a lot of time, too"

Janet Murray says, "Writing rules by which things happen does not make them happen randomly."

Deena settles down and begs Janet to explain legacy hypertext, rule making and influence of animation, all in one sentence.

Cheryl says, "And sometimes I don't know how to program what I can visualize and don't have the resources"

Janet Murray says, "The computer introduces the possibility of greater order, greater complexity in storytelling, not less."

Janet Murray says, "Unilinear stories don't provide enough of a "voice for our own age" (see Nikki next door: go Nikki!)"

Deena [to Cheryl]: and AndrewS, we will do a conference bringing together programmers and writers in August 2001 in Denmark, called CyberFlats."

slats says, "Yes, learning to program some allows that kind of behaviors that aren't random but 'contingent' as nm is saying?"

AndrewS says, "Ooh cool I'll look for that"

Cheryl [to Deena]: I'm there.

Janet Murray says, "Sounds like a good conference. keep me posted."

Deena shares a URL...<>.

RSmyth paraphrases from another book titled FINITE AND INFINITE GAMES: Infinite players play with the rules, finite players play by the rules"

Deena borrows the quote for a bumper sticker

slats says, "St. Carse! love that book!"

Janet Murray says, "We see our lives as multiple, we need multisequential stories: not RANDOM stories, more orderly stories that trace more possibilities in ways that we can keep them all straight and marvel at the parallels and divergences."

Deena says, "Janet, what do you mean by univocal?"

Deena says, "Janet, how do random and multivoiced stories differ?"

RSmyth says, "So we have another Carse fanatic. . . ."

Cheryl wonders what people call the work they are doing on the web or on computer these days...

RSmyth says, "I call it rhizography."

RSmyth says, "I've also called my work mnemography"

Janet Murray says, "I would say multisequential. Multivoiced stories can be unilinear, like Faulkner's sound and the fury ( which I now realize is a realistic novel)"

Cheryl wonders what rhizography means...

Deena admits she didn't understand rhizomes until she thought of grass roots, one root reaching and entwining with another. Then liked the imagery.

RSmyth says, "I hope to institute the study of mnemology someday. . . ."

Deena says, "Janet, why do we need to mirror our lives, our realities, in our stories?"

nm says, "Hmmm, in the interest of diabolic advocacy, Janet: Why is it that we have to have that multi vocalic quality in the *form* of the story? Why isn't 'The Sound and the Fury' appropriately multi vocal even though it uses the unilinear novel form?"

Deena has not reached the Faulkner enlightenment stage yet...

Janet Murray says, "I have a problem with the potato field as a model for interactive design. How do you know if you've made a good one or a bad one?"

RSmyth believes there's hope for Deena.

Janet Murray says, "rhizome=potato root system"

dglen says, "I wouldn't call it the unilinear novel form, except in that it goes from page 1 to 402"

Cheryl says, "hmmm"

Deena was getting out the potato heads until Janet clarified

RSmyth says, "Yes--rhizography = writing the rhizome..."

Cheryl ahhh yes

Janet Murray says, "You don't have to have multivocality in the form of the story, RSmyth. that is my point."

AndrewS says, "Janet, is it just a matter of time before we see more complex digital stories being made? What are the hurdles to jump to get there?"

RSmyth says, "But I don't like points. I like lines."

nm says, "dglen, if that isn't a unilinear novel we need to discuss terms. It's presented one word after another for the reader to look at in that way."

RSmyth says, ""Speed turns the point into a line." which bad boy philosopher said that?"

Century_Guest says, "I've even gone back to handwriting my stuff at times - call me retro"

z-akrobat says, "Sounds like virilio to me."

nm says, "There's no way that 'The Sound and the Fury' is a cybertext by Espen Aarseth's definition, for instance."

Deena Awards nm the first underhanded mention of ergodic for the night award

Janet Murray says, "Nothing wrong with the imagery. It just makes a poor framework for teaching people to make things, which is my current focus."

Deena says, "Yet we read even multilinear stories one word at a time. How have authors captured this mulilinearity?"

Deena says, "Have you seen changes in multilinear conventions since Hamlet on the Holodeck"

Cheryl [to Janet Murray]: how are you teaching people?

RSmyth says, "See my dissertation on rhizography at

Janet Murray says, "We have a brand new medium for human expression and it is a glorious task to develop it. But we have the most conflicting and confusing ways of teaching people how to do it."

Janet Murray says, "I'm currently writing a new book: PRINCIPLES OF INTERACTIVE DESIGN. I may make that the subtitle and INVENTING THE MEDIUM the title."

RSmyth says, "What are those conflicting and confusing ways exactly?"

Deena says, "Janet, how are we teaching people to read and write and experience ht?"

AndrewS salivates quietly...

nm offers some HOT, ERGODIC CYBERTEXTS to everyone

RSmyth says, "Would it be conflicting and confusing to use constructionist or constructivist methodologies?"

Deena says, "Janet, what are the basic principles in the new book?"

Janet Murray says, "Working with narrative made it clear to me (see chapter 3 of Hamlet on the Holodeck) that this is a medium just as film is medium, not just a photographed play or a prettified book."

Deena hands everyone prepreview peepers

Cheryl claps.

Deena says, "Yet, there are so many more possibilities in this medium than in film. "

Deena thinks of AndrewS's narrative intelligence characters, for one.

Cheryl [to Deena]: how is that?

RSmyth shuffles papers.

Janet Murray says, "Film ain't exactly chopped liver."

Deena says, "No, but film isn't as movable, as intelligent, and as independent or programmable, either..."

Deena [to Cheryl]: "How is what?

slats says, "What would you say, Janet, are the key features that distinguish the medium?"

Janet Murray says, "It is arguable, or maybe undeniably, the signature medium of human expression of the 20th century"

Cheryl [to Deena]: You partially answered it already

Century_Guest says, "Janet, what do you think of the Ethics of narrative movement?"

Janet Murray says, "Moving images... tv included."

Deena [to Cheryl]: "Please ask again anyway. I get lost

RSmyth chews on chopped liver.

RSmyth gags.

Cheryl [to Deena]: I was asking about how HT had more possibilities than film.

Deena throws out chopped liver to her cat, who finally leaves her alone long enough to type.

RSmyth says, "Oh man--it swallows film!"

Janet Murray says, "I am getting a new appreciation of Lewis Carroll. I see he was a realistic writer too."

Deena nods enthusiastically there!

nm says, "Isn't it perhaps more useful to say that hypertext has different possibilities than film? And different limitations?"

nm says, "But I think we're talking about computer literature in a broader sense than 'hypertext' here."

Janet Murray says, "Cool book, Richard. I'd like to have the URL so I can repeat this path. "

Cheryl says, "I was really wondering how HT might have more possibilities than film. I'm not sure I see that."

nm says, "Hypertext is clearly a superior medium for portraying car crashes."

Cheryl says, "Or different possibilities, as nm says"

Janet Murray says, "To your book which has appeared on my screen"

slats says, "'Simultaneous' versions of time possible in interactive narrative."

RSmyth likes to think of swallowing. He thinks it's poststructural and all. . . .

nm says, "Maybe film is better for plane crashes."

Deena says, "I think because you can, as Janet says in Hamlet on the Holodeck, have programmable modes, guest modes, and interactive modes "

Janet Murray says, "I agree that we have more possibilities because we have a new medium. "

Deena says, "I can also show the connections and relationships between ideas by linking..."

Cheryl should have had her V-8 this morning.

Deena hands Cheryl and all supercharged V-8s laced with insight.

z-akrobat says, "Well, film has never been an open medium. and television has remained a closed medium because radio made broadcasting a closed communication model."

Deena chimes in on the back of Janet's voice--that have not been stifled by conventions yet

Janet Murray says, "That is why I am impatient for people to make coherent more and expressive artifacts in it."

Deena says, "Janet, do you think getting conventions will narrow the field and the medium?"

Deena says, "Janet, have you seen any expressive artifacts yet?"


Deena scans the horizon...

nm says, "While we're discussing film and the limitations of art, Rudolph Arnheim's 'Film as Art' comes to mind. He describes how film (and other media) only have the potential for art because they are limited in certain ways."

Deena says, "How is digital technology changing all that?"

Janet Murray says, "DIGITAL CAMERAS and EDITING will make everyone a filmmaker if they want to be."

RSmyth says, "What's fun is the potential for creating new genres!"

RSmyth says, "New hybrid creations!"

Janet Murray says, "New genres, yes."

z-akrobat says, "Thank goodness! yes! absolutely."

Deena passes out new imacs and video editors to all

nm says, "It's not the new possibilities so much as the limitations, to Arnheim, that allow for artistic endeavor - the frame of the picture, editing, etc."

AndrewS's says, "Janet, are there any particular directions or approaches you feel digital narrative creators should explore, or pursue?"

RSmyth says, "This is what I was encouraged to do in my work with Greg Ulmer--create new genres: spin them out like a spider...."

slats says, "Interactivity in medium makes feedback loops where change happens two way maybe."

Deena says, "What do you guys see in the way of limitations on the digital media"

nm says, "Discreteness?"

Cynthia has Apple's new OS X operating system, and wait until you see what you can do in that :)

Janet Murray says, "I'm really interested in the merger of web and TV. I've been working on prototyping for broadband applications."

Deena passes out OS XII she just got from flying in her futuristic holodeck machine

Janet Murray says, "I think there are some compelling possibilities in several directions.

Deena clamors for details from Janet.

AndrewS's says, "Will the TV screen be the first place that interactive narrative is first experienced by the general population?"

RSmyth downloads OS X11 onto his computer sized molecular electronic watch

z-akrobat says, "I see three limitations: 1. the FCC, 2. corporations (big ones!), and 3. commercialization."

Janet Murray says, "In the PBS mode, for example, there is an interesting documentary now being made showing the black and white perspectives on the town of Jasper Texas where that atrocity occurred with the klansman dragging a man to death behind their truck."

Deena [to z-akrobat]: "Could you explain those limitations in the new media? I'm confused about the role of the FCC

Deena says, "Janet, are you referring to the way that the tv augments/supplants its messages through the larger websites?"

Salmon [to AndrewS's]: I think that's a good question.

AndrewS's perks up his ears for the answer! :)

Janet Murray says, "This kind of story seems to call out for treatment in a medium where you can move from one perspective to another in an intimate fashion, getting inside the heads of people who see the same reality from different points of view: the average people of the town not the hate groups. They live in two different towns. How do we understand that?"

z-akrobat says, "The FCC is doing very little to secure that open channels in this medium remain open and from stopping a repeat performance of what happened with radio."

Deena [to AndrewS's]: "Yes, have you guys been working on porting babyz and things to the tv for interactive experiences?"

z-akrobat says, "But maybe that's outside the main theme for this evening."

Janet Murray says, "This is the kind of task that is at the heart of the human project, the global imagining of who we are and who are our neighbors."

Deena says, "Janet, so how is tv/web portraying these different points of view?"

AndrewS's says, "No not at all, I'm still very much planted in the computer as delivery medium (I'm not even planning to use the internet, other than for distribution of the downloadable program)."

nm says, "I have a question about Flash which wasn't addressed, although that discussion topic has faded."

Janet Murray says, "CPB happens to have given money to this group to do "enhanced tv" prototyping. "

nm says, "If it's OK to go back to that --"

Deena waves nm on.

RSmyth says, "nothing fades in a MOO. . . ."

nm says, "I wonder about the proprietary nature of Flash in a this post-StorySpace era, when people are developing on the Web (a free format)."

Janet Murray says, "I am intrigued by the possibility not so much of this particular project but of this kind of project: a genre "

Deena says, "I'd like to go back to Andrew's question: "where will we see the first interactivity? Will the TV screen be the first place that interactive narrative is first experienced by the general population?""

nm says, "Why should we go use a commercial product that is not created for artists when there is so much interesting stuff happening in the world of free software?"

dglen says, "I share nm's concern, and on a larger scale too, about web tools"

Janet Murray says, "I am also interested by projects that are more entertainment based, that will give viewers participatory roles in the story, or extend the TV story into the web."

z-akrobat says, "could you please say more about the new genre?"

Deena says, "nm, please give URLs and examples of what is happening in the free software"

Janet Murray says, "I talked about the "hyperserial" in chapter 9 of Hamlet on the Holodeck and it is happening even faster than I thought."

RSmyth says, "Yes--more more about the new genre!"

Cheryl says, "I wonder about tv/web interaction with narrative as a focus. how viable will this really be, if the general population doesn't real literature (etc.)..."

Deena says, "Yes, have you seen the Xenaverse serials?"

(Editor's note: a Xenaverse tour)

RSmyth asks Janet to remind us about hyperserials.

AndrewS's I have a New York Times article URL about this, It's not too optimistic for some reason

(Editor's note: this link requires registering to view).

Deena says, "Right, have you seen a lot of interaction between author/readers/viewers online?"

Century_Guest says, "I am more and more seeing web works becoming part of the commercialization and stereotyping of the world."

Janet Murray says, "The group I am working with is the eTV project of the American Film Institute. You can find out more on their web site: "

nm says, "Deena, every URL is an example, since the Web is an open standard that isn't owned by any one company (despite attempts by Microsoft and Netscape to own it). Additionally, there's Inform (which I use) that is free on open, DBN and Character Maker which are developed by universities for creative activity rather than by companies for profit"

Deena [to Century]: Could you explain what you mean by commercialization and stereotyping?

Janet Murray says, "More people have a computer and a TV in the same room LIKE DEENA (before she threw it out the window) than have WebTV or AOL"

Cynthia slips quietly out the door to prepare to teach...

RSmyth grumbles that these NEW YORK TIMES URLs have crashed his netscape. . . .

Janet Murray says, "The Drew Carey Show did a simulcast last year (I never watch that show, but I saw the demo which was very witty)"

Cheryl says, "When I saw the promo for the D.Carey show I wasn't surprised at the idea...but I never watched it either"

RSmyth bets that Deena's TV had Star Trek Voyager on it as it flew out the window. . . .

AndrewS's says, "I've found Big Brother, as boring as it is sometimes, to be the first tv show and website that really work together well. I find the live (uncensored) webcasts more entertaining than the tv show itsel.f"

Actually, Deena confesses that she does not have a tv in the house, and wonders how many people DO watch tv and play on the computer at the same time. Are there any studies or stats?

Janet Murray says, "Web cams are also turning the computer into a new cinema verite venue."

Deena says, "Could someone explain what Big Brother is and give a URL?"

AndrewS's says, "It's"

Editor's note: This link automatically updated to an unofficial site for Big Brother at

AndrewS's says, "You need a fast web connection to watch the live webcams"

Salmon says, "someone in Salon said something similar about Birgbrither- the web cast was more interesting to most people"

Editor's note: I couldn't find a reference to Birgbrither.

AndrewS's says, "What's great about it is that camera operators are constantly zooming in on the people, the sound is good, etc."

Janet Murray says, "Henry Jenkins (MIT) has very interesting things to say about the difference between Big Brother and Survivor. He should be publishing soon. Or invite him to talk."

Janet Murray says, "You should have him here soon "

Deena says, "Janet, how do you see these types of shows creating a literature and a genre?"

z-akrobat says, "Reality TV shows are very interesting in this regard. but aren't they different from say the drew carey simulcast?"

Deena notes to invite Henry Jenkins.

JanetMurray says, "Not a genre, lots of them."

Deena says, "How will these genres be differentiated?"

Janet Murray says, "It's like the beginning of the cinema when they learned little by little what made for good storytelling."

nm braces himself for the new wave of reality-based Web sites.

AndrewS's says, "Do you feel TV is adequate for making an actual interactive story of some sort?"

Janet Murray says, "People are using the web as a kind of "peep hole"."

Deena says, "How do you see collaboration and interactivity in these genres? Can readers participate in creating the story?"

Cheryl wonders how we can exploit reality TV for our own computer-based narratives...

RSmyth says, "But I bet narrative will become something completely different in the new media."

Janet Murray says, "It offers the possibility of giving another point of view simultaneously on the same action."

Janet Murray says, "Faulkner would have loved it."

nm says, "Actually, reality-based Web sites have come and gone: The Spot (not an attempt at reality), Geek Cereal."

Deena says, "Yes, what will narrative look like in this?"

RSmyth says, "Something bigger, more comprehensive."

Janet Murray says, "Individual sites come and go. The genre conventions develop."

Deena says, "nm, why do you think they have gone? Were they not sustainable? Re they a legacy, too?"

RSmyth says, "Something more open vs. closed. . . ."

AndrewS's laments that interactive TV is out of the reach of independent artists and writers...

Deena wants to get back to why ht is a legacy genre

Janet Murray says, "NO it's not because of broadband. You could do it on a web site."

Janet Murray says, "I'm writing this on a cable modem fast system"

Deena says, "Yes, I think it is out of reach as well."

nm says, "Deena, they were either naive or otherwise ill-suited attempts to transplant forms from other media to the Web."

Deena says, "We need to collaborate with programers, designers, graphics, sound, etc. to produce anything..."

Janet Murray says, "Not for long"

Cheryl wonders how many electronic writers have fast modems...

Deena says, "How does this collaboration affect the literature"

Janet Murray says, "Film is a collaborative medium. It's still art"

slats says, "Extreme design constraints--such as individual or small team artists sometimes push innovation better than say Disney."

Deena says, "nm, could we have a native reality based web literature?"

nm says, "Maybe, Deena. The memoir / diary is not at all my favorite form, so I wouldn't be the one to ask."

RSmyth says, "I'm using my trusty ole 14.4 modem at the moment."

Deena says, "Janet, how does collaboration affect the art and the storytelling?"

AndrewS's agrees with slats...

RSmyth says, "On my seven-year old macintosh."

Deena says, "Slats, could you elaborate on the design constraints"

Cheryl [to RSmyth]: wow

Janet Murray says, "What does nm mean?"

Marvin arrives.

Deena berates Nick for not introducing himself

nm , who did introduce himself, does it again. nm <-- Nick Montfort

Deena says, "Hi Marvin, we are having a wild time with holodecks and motorcycles."

RSmyth says, "and blue grasshoppers."

Deena says, "Before Marvin runs screaming off, really we are talking about different author nmodes in film and new media"

Janet Murray smiles very broadly thinking of Nick Montfort

Janet Murray says, "Hi Nick! How's grad school?"

nm says, "Good! Grueling!"

Deena passes out tasty pasties with blue grasshopper legs sticking out everywhere

AndrewS's says, "Janet, what are the approaches to making digital stories that you wish we should start pursuing, that we are neglecting right now? (if any)."

Janet Murray says, "Just as it should be, as I tell my students."

Deena passes over some hot porridge and gruel to Nick.

Deena says, "Yes, what directions do you think we should be going in?"

RSmyth's stomach grumbles.

Janet Murray says, "I think we need authoring environments that will put the procedural power of the computer in the hands of writers."

Janet Murray says, "I've been doing something interesting with museums in Boston. We devised a system for museum educators to make up characters."

Deena scribbles that down and hands it solemnly to AndrewS

RSmyth's stomach grumbles for gruel.

Cheryl gives RSmyth some leftover dinner

Deena hands out doves tails, gruel, and energy bars to all

Janet Murray says, "The characters' lives diverge according to the choices of the interactor, and also according the different incarnations"

Deena says, "This does dovetail nicely with AndrewS's character development programs..."

Deena says, "So the characters are preprogrammed?"

RSmyth takes all this food in with his vacuum cleaner mouth.

Janet Murray says, "AndrewS, you should immediately make a system that would let people make animated characters that could have variant incarnations."

AndrewS's is too embarrassed to admit that he hasn't released any of his own tools to the public (yet).

Deena hands r a vacuum napkin

Janet Murray says, "Sort of a sims-making machine but with story morphemes"

RSmyth says, "That's a kirby G-6 by the way."

Deena kicks AndrewS under the table to give her the preview URLs.

Deena says, "So this helps get the programming and the rule making into the hands of the authors?"

Janet Murray says, "Yes."

Deena grimaces at bringing back rules, when she thought she had nicely disposed of them out the window with her tv, too.

Janet Murray says, "They already think of life in multisequential plots."

Cheryl still wonders about these "rules"...

Janet Murray says, "But they don't have a way to represent it."

Deena says, "Who already thinks of life in multisequential plots?"

RSmyth raises his hand.

Cheryl raises her hands..

Janet Murray says, "They know everything that could happen to a girl/boy colonist/native American rich/poor person in Plymouth Plantation in the 17th century."

nm says, "Janet, is Character Maker available for people in the outside world to use?"

Deena says, "Yes, let's go back and define what the rules are and how we can get the computer tools in the hands of those who are breaking the rules."

RSmyth says, "Who here is a philosopher of joy?"

nm says, "And, didn't it used to be called Character Builder? That was clever."

Janet Murray says, "How do they capture that knowledge so interactors Can get it experientially -- they need authoring environments."

Cheryl raise hands and feet

Deena Raises her head and sees that many people see life in multilinear threads...which explains a few things...

RSmyth unravels like a text.

Cheryl wonders if we Can get our "rules" book on Oprah, like the other "rules" book did...

Deena says, "How do we get these tools to the authors?"

Janet Murray says, "Character Maker is not available. I'm just starting up a lab at Georgia Tech. But I have to work on the curriculum and my textbook too"

Deena says, "Janet, are there others working on Character Maker?"

AndrewS's says, "Besides general technologies like Director, Shockwave or Flash, do you know of anything in development?"

RSmyth says, "Open up the universities to us outsiders...."

RSmyth says, "Let us come play with your toys."

RSmyth says, "Who here is a philosopher of toys?"

Deena says, "I think the artists, like nm says, will always be on the periphery...using tools designed for other purposes. Can we get tools and morph them to build characters and environments?"

Deena raises all her toys.

RSmyth believes in playing with concepts like they're toys.

Deena says, "How do we use what is available?"

AndrewS's says, "Chris Crawford has been on the noble pursuit to create an interactive story tool, but I'm not sure how far along he is."

nm says, "Hm, Deena, it's good for artists to subvert tools that aren't made for art-making purposes. But there will also be StorySpaces and DBNs (Design by Numbers) and other sorts of systems that *are* made for artistic use."

RSmyth thinks of Lakoff and Johnson's latest to. . .

Deena says, "How can we develop the tools that we have into interactive authoring environments?"

RSmyth says, "Tome. . . .Philosophy in the Flesh."

Deena says, "nm, what is DBNs and do you have a URL?"

AndrewS's says, "Also check out cmu's Alice, at"

nm shares a URL...<>.

Deena says, "AndrewS what is Alice?"

AndrewS's says, "Alice is a graphical VRML tool, not particularly suited for telling stories, more for making small virtual worlds"

Deena says, "Janet, others, why do we feel the need for story lines? What about using the medium to express relationships and connections?"

Janet Murray says, "I think we should make some more."

Cheryl [to Janet Murray]: when do you expect your new interactivity book to be out?

Janet Murray says, "2002"

RSmyth says, "Story is just fundamental."

RSmyth says, "Think of Jerome Bruner's ACTS OF MEANING."

Deena looks at her watch and makes note of that.

Cheryl says, "I like working with connections. I don't think story is essential at all times. I call my work lyrical more than anything these days"

Deena then realizes her watch has been stopped with the very best butter.

Deena says, "R, do you have a URL for that work?"

Janet Murray is very interested in the conversation but getting very sleepy

Salmon says, "I like what Laurie Anderson said, that technology is the campfire around which we tell our stories."

Cheryl remembers the days she played the mad hatter.

In the distance you hear someone's alarm clock going off.

Misc_guest wavers and vanishes into insubstantial mist.

Deena says, "Yes, are there any last burning questions for Janet before we knock off?"

Deena sneaks up and puts butter in Janet's clock so she won't see it is after her bedtime and will keep playing with us.

RSmyth whines and doesn't want to go to bed.

Deena says, "We can talk as long as we like.."

Janet Murray is completely charmed by the company.

Janet Murray fears she can no longer type coherently

Deena says, "Next month, I will be doing a series on libraries: checking out and archiving eliterature."

slats says, "See y'all later in the movie...."

Janet Murray says, "cool"

Misc guest arrives.

dglen says, "bye"

Deena says, "There is a bulletin board in the ELO website, so please post further questions there, and I will post answers from Janet."

Janet Murray says, "Thanks to all for the great conversation. This is a fine rabbit hole you've got here."

RSmyth thinks of Roger Chartier's work on libraries

Deena says, "Just go to"

Deena says, "R, Can you get me the URL for that work?"

Deena says, "Janet, thanks so much for coming"

Deena slips the doormouse into Janet's pocket

AndrewS waves bye to Janet

Janet Murray thinks with pride of Nick's expanding career

nm says, "Bye Janet, thanks for coming to chat"

Janet Murray says, "bye"

Cheryl time to switch places!

slats says, "Mmmm thanks"

Deena passes out milk, cookies, and sleepy coffee to all

Janet Murray has disconnected.

The housekeeper arrives to remove Janet Murray.

Surreal_Guest has disconnected.

The housekeeper arrives to remove Surreal_Guest.

Cheryl says, "Thanks Janet!"

Deena and takes the doormouse's tail out of the teapot

z-akrobat says, "Thanks Janet!"

Cheryl says, "This has been very productive & cool chat!"

Deena says, "AndrewS, how are your projects going?"

dglen says, "Thanks Janet!"

Deena says, "Cheryl, I don't think I will mak e the FLASH workshop, but I wanted to go...please take notes!"

z-akrobat says, "I missed the last 10 mins but I'm glad I can go back and read what was said."

AndrewS's says, "Not bad, I just quit my job so I can work on it full time! :)"

slats has disconnected.

The housekeeper arrives to remove slats.

Cheryl says, "I'm still trying to work out funding, but if I go, I'll give a full report."

Deena says, "We are also doing a workshop next month on this chat room for new works."

Deena says, "We will feature Tom Bell's work "

Deena says, "Wow, AndrewS, that is a huge step!"

z-akrobat says, "Where will this be archived?"

Cheryl says, "Oh, is that part of the new workshop thing?"

Deena says, "I wish you the best of luck"

Deena says, "This will be archived on the eliterature site at"

dglen says, "Archived where?"

Deena says, "Go to and click on community"

Misc_guest says, " Please machine, be nice to me this time?"

Deena says, "Misc_Guest, are you having difficulty?"

AndrewS's says, "We have a first paper on our project, at the top of the papers list at"

RSmyth says, "what's the workshop thing all about? I be There's a URL. . . ."

z-akrobat says, "Thanks Deena!"

dglen says, "Thanks to Deena"

Deena says, "Give me until this weekend though, I have been traveling and am still not recovered."

The housekeeper arrives to remove dglen.

Deena says, "Cheryl, is the workshop discussed at EASTGATE"

Cheryl wonders how Deena can do all she does!

nm says, "Yes, I'm looking forward to the workshop."

z-akrobat says, "how soon will it be archived?"

Cheryl says, "Oh, you mean the Flash workshop? I think. I was actually talking about the e-lit workshop"

Deena says, "The OWL workshop will be here. "

AndrewS's says, "Deena thanks for managing to grab an hour of Janet's time, she's a busy woman... that was fun"

RSmyth says, "What's OWL?"

Deena says, "Please give me your email and I will send you more about the OWL (online writers workshop)"

Deena says, "Nick, what date was the owl again?"

RSmyth blushes at having to show his ignorance.

nm says, "Hmm... It's OWEL, right?"

z-akrobat says, "Thanks again. goodnight!"

Deena says, "Oh yes, it is OWEL and it is on Saturday October 28 at 21:00 London, 19:00 New York, 13:00 LA"

nm says, "Oct 28"

Salmon says, "whee!"

Cheryl says, "This is like a party where I'm having too much fun to leave. But, alas, I guess all good things must end."

nm says, "Yep"

RSmyth waves goodbye to Cheryl

nm says, "Come to OWEL! It should be a hoot."

Deena says, "Right, it will be a lot of fun"

z-akrobat has disconnected.

The housekeeper arrives to remove z-akrobat.

nm increments the bad pun count

Cheryl waves goodbye to everyone. Promises to try to make the workshop and hopefully get some stuff to workshop too.

Salmon says, "Before everyone runs off..."

nm says, "Bye all"

nm says, "Er, yes"

Deena looks back and can't believe she missed the pun.

Cheryl makes skid marks on her way to stop...

Salmon says, "do people have info on automatic poetry generators? cool examples?"

Deena listens to Salmon

Salmon grins.

nm says, "I don't think there are such things -- cool examples"

RSmyth says, "I created a poet in MOOSE Crossing. . . ."His name is Dante.""

Deena says, "Nick, you were working on one, weren't you? Or was that Nick Traenkner?"

AndrewSwaves goodbye to run off to eat dinner... :)

Salmon says, "I'm doing a seminar, and I figured you all would have a handle on the coolest stuff."

Cheryl says, "There s a small example here at MTU..."

nm says, "Although I'd read Charles Hartman's 'The Virtual Muse'"

Deena says, "Uncle Buddy's funhouse has one of the better examples"

Deena says, "Salmon, please also post the question on the ELO bulletin boards.And check out the ELO Directory. Both on the Elit site""

Salmon says, "I looked at the directory, thanks.."

nm says, "Maybe Racter would count? There's a claim that it wrote a book of poems."

AndrewS has disconnected.

Cheryl says, "I can't remember the exact URL, unfortunately. I can email it to you if you send me your email :"

Salmon says, "Racter's what I have to look at.. and then beyond"

Deena says, "Also ask Loss Glasier--I Can send you his email address"

RSmyth spontaneously recites the following: but then, light broke. I looked. an evening glow. / men go home because they do not know."

nm says, "The Charles Hartman book is the one important work that I've come across"

Salmon says, "Virtual muse? yes.. I just read that"

RDeena says, "Have you accessed some of the Oulipo's work? Don't know if it is translated, though..."

RSmyth waves goodbye.

Deena says, "Thanks for coming!"

RSmyth hopes to get one more blue grasshopper for the road....

Cheryl says, "There's an English translation book on Oulipo (sp?)"

Salmon says, "We've got Queneau's sonnets..."

(Editor's note: see Alt X's list of Oulipo and Queneau related works)

RSmyth says, "Thanks for having me--and for the invitation, Deena!"

Deena tosses out bagfuls of blue grasshopper

Deena says, "Sure. Please come next month for the library chats!"

RSmyth hops off into the sunset, reciting as he goes:

Salmon grins, "Thank you all.. I'm scribbling as fast as I can

Cheryl says, "I can't find the name of the book in the dark of my livingroom, but I don't think There's many out There..."

RSmyth says, ""Who made the world?""

Cheryl resigns to logging off,

RSmyth says, ""Who made the swan, and the black bear?"

Deena says, "You might ask Jim Rosenberg, too."

nm says, "Charles Hartman is a cyborg author (or half of one &smiley;) and not a maker of automatic poetry generators, though - very very important distinction, I think"

RSmyth says, ""Who made the grasshopper?"

RSmyth says, "This grasshopper, I mean--"

Deena says, "R, what is that from"

nm says, "Anyway, ciao"

Deena says, "Tiger tiger burning bright...what the anvil what the hand"

RSmyth says, ""The one who has flung herself out of the grass""

Deena passes out bags and leaves of grass

RSmyth says, ""The one who is eating sugar out of my hand""

nm says, "That sounds like something the Unknown would do, Deena"

Deena says, "Of course Mary Oliver THE SUMMER DAY"

nm says, "Maybe a different type of grass, though"

RSmyth says, ""The one who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down--""

nm says, "G'night"

RSmyth says, ""who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.""

nm has disconnected.

RSmyth says, ""Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.""

RSmyth says, ""Now she snaps her wings open and floats away."

Salmon says, "well thank you all again, and thanks Deena for hosting.. 'night night"

Deena says, "Sure, have a wonderful evening, all."

Salmon has disconnected.

RSmyth says, ": snaps his wings open, and floats away."

RSmyth says, "Oops."

Deena says, "Right. I have to clean up in real life, but please stay as long as you all."

RSmyth says, "Take it easy folks. Iit was fun."

RSmyth has disconnected.

The housekeeper arrives to cart nm off to bed.

Cheryl says, "Talk to you later! Bye!"

Deena says, "Bye!"

-- End log: Wednesday, September 27, 2000 9:19:57 pm CDT


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