Chat Transcript: December 17, 2000
What are we playing for anyway?: Espen Aarseth

Ergodic theories and practice in digital literature When we follow links and make connections in computer games, it's play. But when we do the same thing in literature, its ergodic--or work. What makes it work?

Who are our readers and are they putting in the energy needed? How can we gather readers and writers into a spirit of play?

Espen Aarseth is an Associate Professor in the Dept. of Humanistic Informatics at the University of Bergen since 1996, and the author of Cybertext: Perspectives on Ergodic Literature.

Related Links


Session Start: Sun Dec 17 20:51:26 2000

[20:51] <Deena> :Serves cookies all around

[20:51] <mAz> Hi Helen

[20:51] <Helen> Hello

[20:51] <Deena> Yeah, I can't figure out how to do that, but Helen and Sue can. Hi Helen, Sue just went to check the log

[20:52] <Helen> Me too! I'm paranoid....

[20:52] <Ev> Eeep!

[20:52] <Deena> starts thinking about firewood and chopping logs to keep the heat in

[20:52] <mAz> Just how many logs do we NEED tonight

[20:52] <log1> Helen, I have just found something out about the log

[20:52] mAz laughs

[20:52] <Helen> Yes?

[20:52] <Deena> Yep. I've lost chats, but I don't want to lose this one.

[20:52] <Ev> All this talk about chopping logs makes me nervous

[20:52] <mAz> And now they're talking to each other

[20:52] Andrew_Stern has joined #trace

[20:52] <log1> It is adding this on to the end of the last log

[20:52] <Deena> Hi Andrew!

[20:52] <Andrew_Stern> Hi :-)

[20:52] <Helen> Mine is time stamped by day

[20:52] <log1> I am now going to another machine

[20:52] mAz greets Andrew

[20:52] Deena serves wine, cheese and hugs all around

[20:54] <Helen> Hello all!

[20:54] Andrew_Stern is now known as Andrew

[20:54] Alan_Sondheim has joined #trace

[20:54] <Helen> Do we have enough logs now? Could float down a river with this lot!

[20:54] <mAz> Hi Alan

[20:54] <Helen> Deena, forget the : just the /

[20:54] <Ev> Deena. just use :

[20:54] <Alan_Sondheim> Hi everyone - glad to see logging here -

[20:54] Deena likes logs

[20:54] Deena tries again to pass around cookies

[20:55] <Helen> NO COOKIES!

[20:55] <Helen> Shall we have biscuits?

[20:55] Deena takes back the cookies and passes around proper English tea, biscuits and gravy.

[20:55] <Helen> Mince pies?

[20:55] Ev tries to mollify Helen with triple chocolate brownies.

[20:55] Deena passes around American biscuits and gravy and mince pies and wine

[20:55] <Helen> Mmm this way I'll get fat...

[20:55] Ev notices Alan and gives him a hug hello@@@

[20:56] <Helen>But we're not here to play around!

[20:56] <Alan_Sondheim> Hi Ev @

[20:56] vika has joined #trace

[20:56] <Ev>Nope....just calorifying before the start

[20:56] <vika> Afternoon.

[20:56] mAz has quit IRC (QUIT: Leaving )

[20:56] <Deena> Right, we have to stock up before chatting!

[20:56] Ev admits to being very fond of all ergon.

[20:56] mAz has joined #trace

[20:56] <Helen> Hello vika, Alan, Andrew, Ev, and Deena of course and all the logs

[20:56] <Helen> Oh and mAz!

[20:57] <mAz> Sorry, I'm dodging about a bit

[20:57] Guy_Vardi has joined #trace

[20:57] Deena passes around dodges

[20:57] <Helen> Anyone else is free to log too....

[20:57] <Sue> Hi everyone I'm Sue now but I am still logging

[20:57] <Deena> The logs will be cleaned up (spelling, typos, etc.) and posted on the ELO site with the rest of the program soon as I can

[20:58] <Sue> I see we have lots of people but where is Espen?

[20:58] <Deena> Hi Guy, glad you could make it. We are waiting for Espen.

[20:58] Matthew_Kirschenbaum has joined #trace

[20:58] <Guy_Vardi> Hi, thanks. Hi everyone

[20:58] <Alan_Sondheim> Hi Matt --

[20:59] <Matthew_Kirschenbaum> Hi folks

[20:59] <vika> Hello Guy, Matt.

[20:59] Margaret_Penfold has joined #trace

[21:00] <Alan_Sondheim> Hi Margaret!

[21:00] <Ev> Hellooooo Margaret

[21:00] Margaret_Penfold is now known as Margaret

[21:00] <Sue>There are a lot of people at webboard - maybe they can't all get in

[21:00] <Sue> I will broadcast a message

[21:00] David_Kolb has joined #trace

[21:00] <Margaret> Hello everyone

[21:00] <Helen>Tell them to use mirc if they can

[21:00] <vika> Hello Margaret, nice to see you again, David.

[21:00] <Helen> Hi

[21:00] Chris_Funkhouser has joined #trace

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[21:01] Julianne_Chatelain is now known as julianne

[21:01] David_Kolb has quit IRC (QUIT: )

[21:01] <Deena> Hi, Espen should be joining us very quickly

[21:01] <Helen> Hi Chris, Julianne, we haven't started yet

[21:01] <Chris_Funkhouser> Alan: I'm new to this, don't know how to whisper...

[21:02] Matthew_Kirschenbaum is now known as Mattk

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[21:02] <Helen> double click on a name on the right to whisper

[21:02] <Alan_Sondheim> Where is Espen now, physically?

[21:02] <Barry_Tench> Hi

[21:02] <Deena> Right, many people are not familiar with this interface, could you give us some hints?

[21:02] <vika> Providence?

[21:02] <Barry_Tench>This my first time in here

[21:02] Ev waves across room to Barry and motions to chair next.

[21:03] <Deena> Espen is doing a program at Brown in Providence RI right now

[21:03] <Barry_Tench> Hi Ev

[21:03] <Helen> OK, to speak, just type and return....

[21:03] <Helen> To do actions type /me actions

[21:03] David_Kolb has joined #trace

[21:03] <Alan_Sondheim> If you want to type an action type /me action

[21:03] <Helen> e.g. /me claps

[21:03] Helen claps

[21:03] Alan_Sondheim runs into action

[21:03] mAz runs into the door

[21:03] <vika> Helen - right. That's if you're IRCing, but aren't other people doing this through a web browser?

[21:03] Deena passes around more wine, biscuits, and mince pies for holiday cheer

[21:03] <Helen> It should work in the Java applet too

[21:03] <Alan_Sondheim> It works here as well Vika

[21:03] Margaret getting lost between action and demonstration

[21:03] Ev runs into mAz.

[21:04] vika nods at Alan and passes out sour cherry rolls

[21:04] <Alan_Sondheim> mAz are you hurt?

[21:04] Ev offers Margaret a map.

[21:04] Helen passes round some sherry she won at a party last week

[21:04] mAz runs rings round Ev by way of answer to Alan's question

[21:04] Ev slides plate of triple-chocolate brownies across the table.

[21:04] <Helen> if you want to change your name type /nick changed-name

[21:04] Helen is now known as changed-name

[21:04] changed-name is now known as Helen

[21:05] David_Kolb is now known as David

[21:05] Barry_Tench is now known as Barry

[21:04] <Deena> We are chatting with Espen today about work and play in hypertext reading, but lets introduce ourselves

[21:05] <Margaret> Triple chocolate - how do you make those?

[21:05] <Sue> I think Espen is nearly here. He is logged on at webboard

[21:05] Espen_Aarseth has joined #trace

[21:05] <Espen_Aarseth> Hello at last

[21:05] <Sue> Welcome Espen!

[21:06] <Chris_Funkhouser> Greetings

[21:06] Katherine_Parrish has joined #trace

[21:06] <Andrew> Hi

[21:06] <Deena> Helen, Sue, and I are your hosts today, and we are talking with Espen Aarseth

[21:06] <Espen_Aarseth>Thanks!

[21:06] <Espen_Aarseth> Sorry I'm late

[21:06] Alan_Sondheim is now known as Alan

[21:06] Katherine_Parrish is now known as Katherine

[21:06] <Deena> In many chats, we have an award for who mentions Espen's name first...but I think we'll forego that for this one :)

[21:06] Espen_Aarseth is now known as Espen

[21:07] Chris_Funkhouser is now known as Chris

[21:07] <Barry>Hi Margaret just trying to get used to it all

[21:07] vika laughs

[21:07] Alan has quit IRC (QUIT: )

[21:07] <Deena> Espen, we were all introducing ourselves

[21:07] <Espen> Ok

[21:07] <Deena> What are you working on at Brown?

[21:08] Jill_Walker has joined #trace

[21:08] <Espen> I am trying to write a book on digital power

[21:08] <Katherine>Thanks =)

[21:08] Barry action smiling

[21:08] <Chris> Power in what sense?

[21:08] Carolyn_Black has joined #trace

[21:08] <Carolyn_Black> Hi

[21:08] <Jill_Walker> Hi

[21:08] <Espen> Politics, democracy, history

[21:08] <Espen> cy

[21:08] Deena smiles at all the familiar faces and hopes folks will introduce themselves.

[21:08] <Barry> hi

[21:08] Jill_Walker is now known as Jill

[21:09] Alan_Sondheim has joined #trace

[21:09] Helen welcomes Carolyn and Jill

[21:09] vika zafrin is a grad student at Brown's Italian Studies Dept, doing her M.A. thesis as a HT project.

[21:09] <Sue> Ok, I am Sue Thomas, novelist and Artistic Director of trAce

[21:09] <Barry> Oh can I introduce myself...Barry that's me

[21:09] <Espen> experiments with the interface

[21:09] <Deena> Espen, do you see common themes in digital power and in reading and categorizing ergodic literature?

[21:09] <Espen> How does one do the star thing?

[21:10] Katherine tries an emote.

[21:10] Andrew is working on an interactive drama project, and previously worked on petz and babyz interactive characters

[21:10] <Sue> Espen, type /me laughs

[21:10] <David> David Kolb teaches philosophy at Bates College and writes hypertext and about hypertext and argument and academic scholarship.

[21:10] <Jill> How do I emote?

[21:10] Espen cire

[21:10] <vika> Type /me does something to emote.

[21:10] <Espen> ok, fine, good to go

[21:10] Jill smiles, thanks

[21:10] David smiles

[21:10] Deena takes an aside to note that ergodic is Espen's neologism from ergon work and hodos path--working literature where you must work to find the paths to follow

[21:10] <Jill> I'm Jill Walker, doing a Ph.D. on ht and moos and stuff in Bergen

[21:10] Carolyn_Black has quit IRC (QUIT: )

[21:11] Barry going ah

[21:11] Helen is a web-writer and web-editor for trAce and an evangelist for hypertext especially amongst kids

[21:11] Katherine is doing a masters in computer applications in education in Toronto.

[21:11] Deena encourages people to share URLs we can look at later for their projects.

[21:11] <Espen> Deena: not really, only in an ideological sense

[21:11] <Chris> With all these words seems like there should be sounds too...speaking of interface...

[21:11] <Deena> Espen, in what ideological sense?

[21:12] <Mattk> Matt Kirschenbaum, English Dept, University of Kentucky -- work on image-based computing, the William Blake archive, ht theory, other stuff.

[21:12] Margaret is grateful to Deena, was turning dictionary pages.

[21:12] <Sue> Chris, we have just set up an experimental voice recorder - I will paste the URL

[21:12] Jill whispers, "Are there more commands and stuff we can use in this chat room? Iis there a help page?"

[21:12] <Espen> Well, there is no empowerment in working in itself.

[21:12] Alan_Sondheim is teaching a course at SVA on internet culture/philosophy.

[21:12] Deena is impressed with the knowledge of digital literature (and power) in this room.

[21:12] <Espen> Slaves can make things or play games.

[21:13] Barry not ignoring people just working it all out.

[21:13] <Chris> Chris Funk- NJIT prof., poet, editor

[21:13] R_Adams has joined #trace

[21:13] <Margaret> Margaret is doing nothing except writing unpublishable novels

[21:13] <Helen> A help page for this chat (and IRC) is at

[21:13] <Margaret> Hi Randy

[21:13] <Espen> So hypertext readers are not more powerful than others, to put it stupidly.

[21:13] Katherine smiles.

[21:14] <Deena> Yet, it takes a certain mindset, or wiping of expectations to read hypertext. In many of the chats we've had, we've found that students have a difficult time reading hypertext--that it is too much "work."

[21:14] <Deena> How can we develop hypertext readers? What kind of power do hypertext readers need?

[21:14] <vika> Deena, have they given specific reasons it's too much work?

[21:15] <Espen> Well, anything you lit prof tells you to read is often too much.

[21:15] <Chris> & the concept of CYBERTEXT is even more difficult to get across to student.

[21:15] <Alan_Sondheim> But it is a different kind of /divided/ labor -

[21:15] <Espen> Just say games

[21:15] <Barry> Could I just say hi again

[21:15] <Chris> Good ideas, Esp

[21:15] <Sue> Question - is there a difference between the reading of hypertext fiction and hypertext non-fiction ?

[21:15] <Deena> Espen, is there a difference between the games and the literature in terms of expectations?

[21:15] <Espen> Sure.

[21:15] <Sue> Are you referring especially to one or the other? or both?

[21:16] Deena chimes in with Sue, and are the expectations different in fiction/nonfiction

[21:16] <Espen>To me, hypertext is just an ideological phrase without analytical meaning

[21:16] <Deena> Vika, a lot of the reasons have been that people find the paths too hard to follow, that they can't make sense of the story, or that they don;t know when they have read the work. Which reflects a certain base set of expectations in reading--that you can find the definitive answers.

[21:17] <Alan_Sondheim> Doesn't hypertext involve a different kind of musculature?

[21:17] <Sue> I would like to raise the question about what they are using it FOR....

[21:17] <Chris> how is hypertext an "ideological phrase"?

[21:17] <Sue> Reading a hypertext car manual, for instance, is quite different to reading a hypertext detective story.

[21:17] <vika> Deena, thanks, that's pretty much the answer I was expecting. I've also noticed that some people simply find it hard on their eyes to read large amounts of brain-consuming stuff on a screen, and transfer their frustration to.

[21:18] <Espen> People are using it to rally, not to understand.

[21:18] <vika>The fact that it's hypertext and path-y in nature. (or cybertext).

[21:18] <Sue> Rally?

[21:18] <Deena> Espen, how are people using it to rally?

[21:18] <Deena> Using what to rally?

[21:18] <Espen> Hypertext.

[21:18] R_Adams the fly thanks ev.

[21:18] <Sue> what do you mean by 'rally'?

[21:18] <Deena> wants to hear more about Alan's ideas of hypertext musculature.

[21:18] <Espen> it is just a word with many different references used in many different ways.

[21:19] Jill excuses herself, will be back soon.

[21:19] Julianne is a gameplaying thingmaking slave-- I mean writer-- from New England who recently discovered she used the term cybertext incorrectly in her recent DAC01 submission and says hi to all esp vika (we met at enarrative1).

[21:19] Jill has quit IRC (Connection reset by peer )

[21:19] <Sue> could you explain the way in which you're using the word 'rally' here?

[21:19] <Alan_Sondheim> Using the mouse, different muscles that require conscious hand/eye orientation - I think the phenomenology of this is often overlooked.

[21:19] <Espen> political rally

[21:19] <Sue> Alan I so much agree

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[21:20] <Sue> political rally , ok

[21:20] Andrew wonders if the phenomenology will change significantly when ht is read on e-books instead of computers

[21:20] <Deena> Espen, could you say the word again? which is being used in a lot of connotation?

[21:20] <Espen> it is an attempt to dominate the field of digital writing

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[21:20] <Mattk> rallying, etc.: Stuart Moulthrop once said -- can't remember where/when -- that hypermedia is multimedia we like; is hypertext cybertext we like?

[21:20] Helen welcomes Claire and Ed we are discussing how we read hypertext

[21:20] <vika> matt - or the other way around?

[21:21] <Deena> Alan, I like the idea of physically reading being different.

[21:21] <Alan_Sondheim> How would you define digital writing in general, then? Would you also include, say, Mud-texting as such, would this also be a form of digital writing?

[21:21] <Espen> of course

[21:21] <Deena> Espen, how is it an attempt to dominate the field of digital writing?

[21:21] <Espen> digital writing is not, I think, an exciting concept.

[21:22] <Espen> in itself, we need a more vague and enticing word for it

[21:22] <Alan_Sondheim> Does this have to do, then, with the institutionalization of hypertext as an apparent foundation for online discourse in general?

[21:22] <Espen> yes, something like that

[21:22] <Claire_Dinsmore> do you really think the name will really engender interest in the act/genre?

[21:22] Deena what words are we using now for digital writing? and do the labels mean a lot? the TrAce competition, used new media writing and asked participants to define it. How are we now defining this dynamic field?

[21:22] <Espen> sure

[21:23] <Deena> How do different names spark interest in the genre?

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[21:23] <Chris> where I teach, they want sexy sounding terminology

[21:23] <Espen> if you can get everyone to accept that hypertext=digital writing, then certainj values, attached to hypertext, will dominate the field

[21:23] <Helen> does it matter what we call it, so long as we attract readers and writers... when it's kids I call it adventure writing or interactive games in text

[21:23] <Sue> We will be releasing that info in early January Deena - needless to say, very very few entrants described themselves as writers

[21:24] <Claire_Dinsmore> sounds like kids

[21:24] <Espen>Is there really an "it" there?

[21:24] <Sue> Espen can you say more about those values?

[21:24] <M_B> Good Evening, Maz.

[21:24] <Helen> perhaps what matters is the CONTENT of the works, nbot what we call them

[21:24] <Andrew> I agree

[21:24] <David> Is "text" so clear and definite that we can contrast "hypertext" to it? Or aren't we talking about genres more particularly?

[21:24] <Deena> I think the it here is far too broad. We continue to talk about electrons and writing as if they went together to form a coherent whole. But what are we really talking about?

[21:24] <Espen> about the hypertext ideology?

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[21:25] <M_B> can't get the hang of this whisper thing. Intellectual discussion?

[21:25] <Alan_Sondheim> Wouldn't you really be talking about discursive formations, and different modes of representation, accession, and so forth? And do these definitions matter - how, for example, would one distinguish MOO from other MUD discourse...

[21:26] <Helen> so long as no-one calls them ebooks I'm happy!

[21:26] <Deena> Hi M_B, just click twice on the person's name that you want to whisper to and a private window will appear

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[21:27] <Sue> l

[21:27] Deena tosses around new names for hypertexts and cybertexts and discourses along with a second platter of cookies that keep being renamed biscuits

[21:27] <Espen> Just a side note: I am afraid the text window is very small, so I miss a lot of arguments when I type my own

[21:27] <Helen> surely we have to use LESS intellectual language if we want to attract a readership outside academia?

[21:27] <Alan_Sondheim> Espen, I'd be interested in your take on multi-media - how it relates to ergodic literature - whether it is a subset in a sense -

[21:27] <julianne> Alan, I'm hoping those definitions don't matter, because I don't understand them.(grin)

[21:27] <CFUNK> seems like multimedia can be ergodic, tho most of it isn't

[21:27] <Espen> Multimedia is another hopelessly vague term

[21:27] Deena sympathize with the physical awkwardness of the chat. There should be a scroll bar to go back and forth...

[21:28] Barry nodding agreement with Helen

[21:28] <Andrew> How interested are hypertext writers in attracting a readership outside academia, anyway?

[21:28] <Alan_Sondheim> By multimedia I mean work that involves moving dynamics of image, text, and sound, within the framework of the screen

[21:28] Helen has a scroll bar

[21:28] <Margaret> Hypertext for me does not necessarily mean a choice between two paths but an option to be gather extra information

[21:28] julianne whispers, "Espen, float the window and drag to resize...?"

[21:28] <Espen> like animated cartoons?

[21:28] <Deena> Good point. Are we interested in getting outside academia, and are we succeeding? Claire's journal, Cauldron is a lovely web work, Claire, does it attract a lot of non academics?

[21:28] R_Adams thinking about how my neck sometimes hurts when reading from the screen, hard to get comfortable, but, oddly, I have no trouble reading say, BBC online: do I use a different part of my brain when reading news as opposed to 'hypertext literature'?

[21:29] <Alan_Sondheim> Float the chat off the page. Enlarge the window. You get a scrollbar.

[21:29] <Espen> right, thanks

[21:29] julianne thinks R_Adams' which part of the brain question is interesting

[21:29] <Sue> re Randy's point - all webusers read hypertext

[21:29] <Helen> if the content absorbs you and the interface is properly designed, then there isn't so much trouble reading it

[21:29] <Deena> Multimedia can be multipathed (multi course-al) or single-pathed

[21:29] <Sue> Isn't the whole term just becoming obsolete?

[21:29] Ed_Bruce is now known as Ed

[21:30] <CFUNK> anyone seen any good cybertext performances lately?

[21:30] Deena has quit IRC (QUIT: )

[21:30] <Claire_Dinsmore> I have no idea really, no one ever responds - I get 1-200o visits a week tho

[21:30] <Sue> we might just as well talk about 'alphabet' writers

[21:30] <Espen> or writers

[21:30] <julianne> Let's go for the jugular of the posted question: how can we get people PLAYing with whatever-we're-calling-it?

[21:30] <Claire_Dinsmore>Thousand that is

[21:30] <Alan_Sondheim> I don't think so, Sue - I think there are differences in the way worlds are created, maintained, split, etc.

[21:31] mez has joined #trace

[21:31] <mez> lo all

[21:31] mez is late, I no!

[21:31] <vika> Julianne - really nifty interface. Lure them in with pretty pictures, then throw brain-consuming stuff at them?

[21:31] <Alan_Sondheim> Some of these stem from the classic novel - being within the phenomenological horizon of Bovary for example is different from hypertext reading which is different from opening video windows etc.

[21:31] <Andrew> you're unfortunately probably fighting against the expectation for graphics and animation, that a lot people seem to want when they use the computer

[21:31] Helen nods to vika

[21:31] julianne thinks about vika's "seduction" idea!

[21:32] <Espen> Andrew, right, see Moulthrop's Reagan library

[21:32] Margaret agrees with Andrew

[21:32] Deena has joined #trace

[21:32] julianne looks at her index cards: engagement, immersion, FLOW STATE...

[21:32] Katherine wonders why that has to be a "fight" - the expectations of animation & graphics.

[21:32] Deena apologizes was floated off page

[21:33] vika nods at Andrew and notes that, for her, that's exactly the problem: how to minimize the use of graphics and (esp.) animation, while having enough of it to capture the att'n

[21:33] <Andrew> but then again, traditional books are as popular as ever, right? so text shouldn't necessarily be the problem...

[21:33] <Helen> indeed not Andrew

[21:33] <Andrew> aren't more books being sold now than ever? or is that wrong?

[21:34] <Alan_Sondheim> Espen, could you comment on interfaces such as The Palace - the GUI chats - and what you might see as their relationship to/inheritance from text-based Ms?

[21:34] <Deena> Espen, how can we appeal to the nonacademic community?

[21:34] <Helen> it's that book readers have expectations and patterns of behaviour -- they give a book a little while to get interesting, hypertext (whatever) readers often give up too quickly because they haven't developed patterns of usage yet

[21:34] <Espen> I don't think the question of graphics is the most important one to ask

[21:34] <Alan_Sondheim> Deena we already do - at least my demographics are wider

[21:34] <Claire_Dinsmore> in a way, though, I think that might be a human inclination towards a tactile, sensual connection we miss with the digital

[21:34] <David> How does "the academic community" and "the artistic community" and "the writers' community" fit together ... and are these really unified groups that can be appealed to?

[21:34] <Alan_Sondheim> Espen - but the graphics on say ThePalace create a different sort of reading and interweaving altogether

[21:35] <Deena> Espen, Alan, Claire, do you see differences in expectations between academic and nonacademic readers?

[21:35] <Alan_Sondheim> Once you have text balloons you have different forms of interference for example

[21:35] <Deena> Do graphics create a different sense of expectations?

[21:35] <Espen> It depends on what the medium is meant to do

[21:35] Deena has quit IRC (QUIT: )

[21:35] <CFUNK> Deena, I see differences in expectations from younger readers & "older" readers

[21:35] <Mattk> I don't mean to be cynical, but here goes . . . hypertext will "breakthrough" when it is marketed and distributed by a major commercial publisher

[21:36] <Sue> can someone please define 'academic' and 'nonacademic' readers?

[21:36] <Andrew> and distributed on e-books that you can read in bed

[21:36] <David> Hi Julianne (testing the whisper)

[21:36] mez wanduhs thru quest[ings]ions, sp.aces...

[21:36] R_Adams sees a huge gap between academic and nonacademic readers

[21:36] <Helen> academic = lit types in universities like many here

[21:36] <Espen> Matt, I couldn't disagree more, for once

[21:36] <Barry> I read in the bath, in the park, I sit in my bed and read...can't take computer to those places with me

[21:36] <Alan_Sondheim> I think the distinction between acad. and non-acad. might be spurious altogether in terms of reader/viewership

[21:36] <Helen> nonacademic = general (intelligent) readers like other here!

[21:36] <Claire_Dinsmore> I find the academic readings a little more open to the experimental nature of text [generalization, of course

[21:36] <Sue> Helen that's not right

[21:36] Margaret wonder if the reason choice is more welcome in a game than in a novel is because the choice is seen as an intellectual challenge in the game but guesswork in the novel

[21:36] <Alan_Sondheim> Barry, I can, and more people will be able to

[21:36] <Mattk>The situation of contemporary hypertext is no different from many previous savant grade/small press publication histories

[21:37] <Jill_Walker> Barry, you need a new and lighter computer you can take those places

[21:37] <Sue> I think it's more about the way the text might be approached, but I am suspicious of it

[21:37] Deena has joined #trace

[21:37] <Barry> nooooooooooo

[21:37] <Alan_Sondheim> Except, Matt, that some pages get hundreds of thousands of hits, and the economic/political economic situation is very different

[21:37] Ev nods at Margaret and her point.

[21:37] <Barry> I have n't finished paying for this one yet

[21:37] mez disemotes

[21:37] mez has quit IRC (QUIT: .i.dream.the.n e X ][t][ us. )

[21:37] <David> Are we overly influenced by the ideal/goal of the breakthrough to Big Audiences? Won't things get more fractionated as media multiply?

[21:38] <CFUNK> who gets 100000s of hits, Alan?

[21:38] <Espen> for me, the question is what nonsequential writing is meant to do

[21:38] <Deena> Will things get more fractured, or will we get a different set of mass expectations?

[21:38] <Sue> ok, Espen - fire away!

[21:38] <Espen> why is the point in using it_

[21:38] <Alan_Sondheim>TrAce for one thing, Beehive - over a year or so I think trace gets 3m?

[21:38] <Andrew> what do you think it's meant to do?

[21:38] <Deena> Right. What IS nonsequential writing meant to do? How are we meant to read it?

[21:39] Helen nods at Alan, 4 million for trace

[21:39] <Espen> I am not the right person to ask

[21:39] <CFUNK> seems like n-s writing is meant to open doors...

[21:39] <Espen> What is the manifesto for hyperfictionalists_

[21:39] <Sue> trace is not 100% 'hypertext'

[21:39] <Alan_Sondheim> But is there a teleology involved at all? I don't think Ns writing is _meant_ to do _necessarily_ anything

[21:39] <Helen> why are you not the right person to ask Espen?

[21:39] <Deena> Espen, all, what does Ns writing get us that we do not get in sequential, linear writing?

[21:39] <Claire_Dinsmore> well, that's nothing new to hypertext though

[21:39] Jamie_Blustein has joined #trace

[21:39] <Sue> it is however about 99% alphabet

[21:39] <Deena> What doors does nonsequential writing open

[21:39] <Espen> because I don't write or publish these things

[21:40] <Andrew> and what new cliffs can you fall off from...

[21:40] <Helen> some ideas must be expressed as poem, some as text, some better suit hypertext

[21:40] <Ev> Or is it more that h-text is a way of writing that more closely approximates the writer's thoughtways

[21:40] <Deena> Hi Jamie, we are talking about what sequential writing is meant to do

[21:40] <Jill_Walker> no, what NONsequential writing is meant to do ;)

[21:40] <Deena> Espen, in Cybertext, you talk about the myth that nonsequential writing mirrors pathways. Why do you describe that as a yth?

[21:40] Jamie_Blustein is now known as Haimish

[21:40] Ed has quit IRC (QUIT: )

[21:41] <Alan_Sondheim> This discussion is really weird. Why on earth is any kind of writing supposed to do any kind of thing? I don't understand the presuppositions here

[21:41] Deena blushes and keeps muttering about non sequential and sequential, trying to find the differences

[21:41] <Espen> pathway mirroring__

[21:41] <CFUNK> DL: instead of dogmatically pounding ordered details at readers, opens a field of information that readers can digest - if they choose to -as they wish

[21:41] <Espen> l art pour l art

[21:42] <Jill_Walker> Mm, sometimes, Chris, but often the reader doesn't have much choice there...

[21:42] <Deena> Good point Alan. I think part of the major proble is that we are glossing over a lot of presuppositions and expectations in writing, teaching and reading here

[21:42] Helen nods at Chris Funk

[21:42] <Haimish> help whisper

[21:42] <Haimish> : D'oh

[21:43] <Deena> Espen, could you talk more about pathway mirroring?

[21:43] <Sue> Is it not true that people in their late teens/early 20s can absorb huge amounts of parallel texts - music, short messages, phones, e-mail etc. - they have no p[roblme with non-seq stuff

[21:43] <Espen> I don't really know what that refers to, Deena

[21:43] <Sue> but they might not choose to read an 'academic' hypertext

[21:43] <Claire_Dinsmore> I think how a reader approaches the ns of hypertexts really depends on their past experience with literature - trad/linear and/or experimental/modernist

[21:43] <Jill_Walker> just as they may not choose to read Ulysses or Shakespeare!

[21:43] <Sue> exactly Jill

[21:43] Helen nods at Jill

[21:44] <David> Maybe the tie that needs to be broken is the association with self-consciously avant-garde literature?

[21:44] <Alan_Sondheim> I think that "sequentiality" might be the wrong approach as well ns or s - instead couldn't one speak of a discursive field

[21:44] <Helen> yes, David!

[21:44] <Sue> Maybe - ahem - we should look not at the form but at the content of these 'academic' hypertexts!

[21:44] <Claire_Dinsmore> exactly Jill

[21:44] David applauds Sue

[21:44] <Andrew> where is the middle ground between trad/linear and experimental/modernist, that won't scare away nonacademic readers?

[21:44] Deena was going back to the idea that nonsequentail text somehow mirrored how we think more than linear text does

[21:44] <Jill_Walker> instead of a "literary" hypertext

[21:45] <Claire_Dinsmore>Thank you Sue:)

[21:45] Helen thinks this is true, could never keep thoughts linear enough to write a novel!

[21:45] <Guy_Vardi> sue: it is true, but they use different channels for perception

[21:45] <Espen>There is no reason why alternative formats must be avant gared

[21:45] <Alan_Sondheim> I wonder if Michel Dufrenee (phenomenology of literary experience) might not be useful here

[21:45] <Sue>True Guy

[21:45] <Espen> garde

[21:45] <Jill_Walker> sorry,that was meant to say "why do you want millions of people to read literary hypertexts? if you want millions of readers, write a web soap opera.

[21:45] <Sue>True Espen

[21:45] <Andrew> Sue I wanted to say that earlier, but I was afraid someone would say , "but form is content" :-)

[21:45] <Deena> :/me passes around avante scared posters and more wine

[21:45] <Sue> Andrew, let it all hang out (hypertextually of course) !

[21:46] <Alan_Sondheim> Deena, forget the : ! Not MOO :-)

[21:46] <Claire_Dinsmore> I think that really depends on the creator - what audience your aiming at. I write for thinkers, artists - they needn't be academic, but neither do they like Stephen king

[21:46] <Andrew> but web soap operas are boring

[21:46] <Helen> hypertext is just a form, there can be as much difference as between Jeffrey Archer and James Joyce

[21:46] <Sue> agreed Claire, me too

[21:47] <Helen> yes, but at the moment there is no way to tell which type is which before you start reading...

[21:47] <Deena> Espen, are there useful ways to distinguish between the different forms that hypertext takes?

[21:47] <Espen> well, I think hypertext is not even a form

[21:47] <David> Hypertext is a kind of writing technology more than it is a literary genre.

[21:47] <Sue> Agreed, David

[21:47] Helen nods at David

[21:47] Margaret is thinking about individual pathways, academic pathways, standard pathways.

[21:47] <vika> What kind of audience to paper-book writers write for? How does a book become a best-seller? And do you want your text (in whatever form) to be a "best-seller"? To whom?

[21:47] <Alan_Sondheim> What is a genre?

[21:47] <Espen> I don't accept the term as a category.

[21:47] <Deena> Here we get back to what is IT? What are we talking about? ...

[21:47] <Sue> All it is , is a technical link between 2 pages.

[21:47] Katherine grins.

[21:47] Deena begins to wonder how we can continue to write and talk about something so ill defined

[21:48] <Guy_Vardi> Jill: I hope that soap opera it will be a success. It might raise some interesting questions

[21:48] <Deena> Does anyone know the URL of the web soap opera Marjorie Luesebrink is writing?

[21:48] <Haimish> I'm confused. How come HT is a technology.

[21:48] <Espen> It is not.

[21:48] <Alan_Sondheim> Sue, not even that; it can also be a link from one part of a page to another part, or to itself identically (in fact the def. of <BR> in xhtml <BR /> is something like that.

[21:48] <Margaret> Perhaps a genre is an explored pathway many people can follow.

[21:48] <Sue> As I see it, a hyperlink is a text connector in the same way that a door is a room connector - but the important thing is the room, not the door.

[21:48] <Claire_Dinsmore> Boo to you Alan - but then again, you and I differ severely on our takes on pop-culture.

[21:48] <Margaret> Perhaps 'academic' writing is just another genre.

[21:49] <Deena> But we seem to be saying the ht is NOT a form, that it is NOT a genre. What is it?

[21:49] <Haimish> If HT is not only a technology then HTML/XML/whatever is just one method of presentation, right?

[21:49] <vika> Deena: a vehicle?

[21:49] <Deena> Right. We have HyperCard, StorySpace, etc. as well.

[21:49] <Espen> An ideology.

[21:49] <David> Deena, are you saying the link structure is what is presented in these various vehicles?

[21:50] <Guy_Vardi> Deena: it's a medium.

[21:50] <Sue> Espen, why is it an ideology?

[21:50] <Helen> Yes, the links are the important thing.... the link is what distinguishes this form.

[21:50] <Alan_Sondheim> Of course, Haimish - you could already do ht (such as it is) in HyperCard.

[21:50] <Espen>That is the only way it makes sense for me to look at it.

[21:50] <Deena> Yes, I think it is a medium where we can present information in different forms.

[21:50] <Sue> I don't understand what you mean though.

[21:50] <Haimish> Would I be terribly pedantic and unhelpful if I jumped up and down screaming that hypertext is not constrained to linked HT?

[21:50] <Helen> No go ahead Haimish.

[21:50] <Sue> You can do that if you like Haimish.

[21:50] <Espen> You make my point.

[21:51] <Alan_Sondheim> Not at all, H. - you also have <refresh> tags and even the presupposition of linking where there might not be any -

[21:51] <David> Ted Nelson had some ideas, for instance "stretchtext" that wasn't linked in the usual way.

[21:51] <Deena> Espen, to clarify is the only way it makes sense is to look at it as a medium?

[21:51] <Espen> People can't agree on what is and what is not ht.

[21:51] <Alan_Sondheim> You might have null links, random links, no linking, recursive linking, etc.

[21:51] <Haimish> Consider that I just made a lot of noise. I'm not good with these technology things :)

[21:51] Deena hands out trampolines for everyone who now wants to jump up and down screaming.

[21:51] <Helen>To me refresh and others are just another form of "link" between one and another piece of info/text.

[21:51] <Helen> Still links....

[21:51] <Sue> Are we really talking about a conceptual shift in the way we approach a text?

[21:52] <vika> Sue, sure, why not? Approach not only reading a text, but writing one as well.

[21:52] <Sue> Are we talking psychology and brain?

[21:52] <Alan_Sondheim> Sue - wouldn't that be it? And how worlds, worldings, musculatures, strategies of interaction, play out?

[21:52] <Deena> How do we reconcile a conceptual shift with a medium?

[21:52] <Alan_Sondheim> (Which I must say is why Cybertext is really a seminal work for a lot of us.)

[21:52] <Helen>There is only one link in conventional text.... word to word, page to page, linear. The "new" forms/media/whatever all provide alternative links in a vast and complicated structure.

[21:52] <Sue> We had to make a conceptual shift to understand a photograph, and then a film.

[21:52] Mattk smiles, waves goodbye.

[21:52] <Sue> Bye Mattk.

[21:53] <David> But there are also links, echoes, references, etc. in conventional texts.

[21:53] <Claire_Dinsmore> I really don't think it's new - except in terms of technology.

[21:53] Deena breaks in with a time check--we promised Espen to keep him for an hour, but we can all chat later. Are there other questions for Espen?

[21:53] <Claire_Dinsmore> And I don't think 'new' is important - content, as Sue sd.

[21:53] <Espen> So, where are we+__)

[21:53] Julianne looks at more index cards: (1) There aren't yet enough good examples of The Stuff; (2) How do we get people to read it? Thinks they are linked.

[21:53] <Helen> Mmmm but the old way links were implied and inferred, now they are present, axtant, visible, usable.

[21:54] <CFUNK> Seen any good cybertexts lately, Espen?

[21:54] <Deena> Julianne, maybe developing good content in this medium is the key...

[21:54] <Haimish> There have been non-linear texts (in the sense of the signified things (not the signs) ) for hundreds of years. So why does there have be a conceptual shift?

[21:54] <Sue> Haimish, maybe there doesn't

[21:54] <Andrew> What kinds of content do y'all think are lacking or not yet seen in hypertext works to date?

[21:54] <Guy_Vardi>The major problem is to define the relation between interaction and narrative.

[21:54] <Espen> Well, Chris, I work with games these days.

[21:54] <Alan_Sondheim> Haimish because the actions, modes of distribution, etc. are qualitatively very different.

[21:54] <Haimish> Oh, I hadn't read Sue's comment.

[21:54] <Helen> Academic games or nonacademic games ;-)

[21:54] Deena wants more humor in hypertexts.

[21:54] <Alan_Sondheim> Sometimes I think the past gets in the way far too often...

[21:54] <CFUNK> I know almost nothing about games. Which ones are good?

[21:55] <Espen> Guy, that's a big can of worms.

[21:55] <CFUNK> well, I am fishing...

[21:55] <Claire_Dinsmore> But they have been for a long time in artists 'books' that have often been objects, not just paper and covers.

[21:55] R_Adams applauds Deena

[21:55] <Deena> What games are interesting now, Espen?

[21:55] <Espen> Tetris (editor's note, this link goes to a history of tetris)

[21:55] <Deena> why?

[21:55] <Sue> Ah that is the only game I enjoy!

[21:55] <Alan_Sondheim> Aadventure still.

[21:56] <Espen> It is so simple, yet the best game ever, probably.

[21:56] Deena hands out lots of nice juicy cans full of interesting worms and wormholes

[21:56] <Andrew> From nonacademic work I enjoy looking at nonlinear movies like Timecode or Run Lola Run, over most of today's computer/videogames.

[21:56] <Sue>They say that Tetris retunes your synapses.

[21:56] <Sue> I play it to get to sleep.

[21:56] <Alan_Sondheim> Espen how do you rate it? (I'm thinking of scrabble's phenomenology).

[21:56] <Sue> I find it not hypnotic, but more meditative.

[21:57] <Espen> Rate tetris (questionmark).

[21:57] <Helen>The relationship between interaction and narrative is another kind of link...

[21:57] <Alan_Sondheim> Well, you say "the best game ever, probably."

[21:57] <Sue> Espen - is there a narrative in Tetris?

[21:57] <Espen> No.

[21:57] <Sue> I have not imagined one

[21:57] <Deena> How would you categorize the relationship between game and player?

[21:57] <Helen> Interactivity is the enzyme that activates the link structure...

[21:57] <Sue> It goes beyond narrative - experience without narrative

[21:57] <Claire_Dinsmore> Are we getting off the mark here?

[21:57] <Espen> Deena, that is a book, not a chat line

[21:58] Deena is waiting for the book.

[21:58] <Alan_Sondheim> I think there is - the requisitioning and collapsing of free space - The end is always in site, etc.

[21:58] <Guy_Vardi> Helen: I am not sure. a link is one possible implementation of interaction technique

[21:58] <Alan_Sondheim>The strategies may be considered tropes, and so forth. Why isn't this a narrative?

[21:58] <Deena> Are there lessons we can take from tetris to developing interesting content in the hypertext medium?

[21:58] <Espen> Alan, I think narrative is not the only measure

[21:59] <Alan_Sondheim> I agree with that of course.

[21:59] <Claire_Dinsmore> indeed!

[21:59] <Sue> Me too.

[21:59] <Guy_Vardi> Users need control?

[21:59] <Deena> What are other measures?

[21:59] <Espen> Deena, I seriously don't think so.

[21:59] <Sue> I am currently writing a book which probably has no narrative.

[22:00] <Espen> if you want to make games, make games.

[22:00] <David> Tetris keeps you going with events and feedback/fulfillment and challenges. Is that no narrative or a lot of mininarratives?

[22:00] <Sue> Hmmm David I will think about that.

[22:00] <Espen> If you want to write fiction, write fiction.

[22:00] <Helen> Everything has a narrative.

[22:00] <Deena> Is there a link between feedback/fulfillment and narrative?

[22:00] <Guy_Vardi> Going to Russian formalist there is neither suzert or fabula in tetris

[22:01] <Sue> Espen, I must admit that when I read you were working on games, I imagined games with a narrative like Myst.

[22:01] <Sue> Guy can you explain - that sounds interesting.

[22:01] <CFUNK> I heard Moulthrop once give a paper glorifying Myst as a great hypertext. Editor's note: Stuart says: There's the CM keynote and also an article in _Style_, which the keynote became. Both are on my site. The keynote is and the paper is I'm very fond of Myst and Riven both. I don't think I've praised them as _hypertexts_ per se (though I seldom remember exactly what I said), but I think they rate pretty highly as digital fictions/cybertexts.

[22:01] <Alan_Sondheim> Espen, given all the narratological work around, could you explain that?

[22:01] <Deena> I think this conversation is a great motivator to experiment with content in this medium.

[22:01] <Espen> We don't know what narrative is.

[22:01] Deena shrugs. That's OK we don't really know what writing, hypertext, or nonsequential writing is, either

[22:02] Helen giggles

[22:02] <Espen> So, what is a narrative?

[22:02] <David> Paul Ricoeur's book Time and Narrative might be helpful, especially the stuff in volume 3 on different kinds of narrative time.

[22:02] Helen thinks -- a whole hour and we haven't even defined what we're talking about!

[22:02] <Deena> That's nothing, Helen, we've gone whole conferences without defining what we are talking about.

[22:02] <vika> What is a narrative, or what narrative is in general?

[22:02] <Espen> It is a poorly understood concept.

[22:03] <Guy_Vardi> You can divide narrative into fabula (the general story)and suzet (the plot).

[22:03] <Alan_Sondheim> I'd look back at the Schank and Abelson stuff on scripts, goals, and understandings - tensions, fulfillments, etc. I can't give an exact definition, but certainly a family a usages would been possible...

[22:03] <Sue>Thanks Guy.

[22:03] <Deena> What is the general story? What is storytelling?

[22:03] <CFUNK>The tootsie roll/lick paradigm: the world may never know...

[22:03] <Alan_Sondheim> Very poorly understood, but I think fundamental to human cognition.

[22:03] <Sue> Does there need to be a story?

[22:03] <Deena> Is stream of consciousness narrative? Is relating an action narrative?

[22:03] <Espen> There you all go!

[22:03] <Espen> Very good

[22:03] <Deena> Is describing someone narrative?

[22:04] <Sue>There are other things beside story vs stream of consc.

[22:04] <Helen> Yes Deena, all of them.

[22:04] <Espen> QED

[22:04] <Margaret> Deena, you can turn it in to narrative internally.

[22:04] Deena had always wondered about the voices in her head.

[22:04] <Claire_Dinsmore> Yes, in a way I think part of the meaning of hypertext, is the acknowledgment that we don't necessarily need one.

[22:04] <Alan_Sondheim> No QED, only that narrative, like everything discussed here, is a field or fields, rather than contained definition...

[22:04] <Andrew> How is narrative more than just a chronicle?

[22:04] <Sue> Agreed Andrew

[22:04] <Sue> Espen, have you written anything I can read about tetris? Is anything available?

[22:04] <Espen> I have a paper on games and spatiality online, see

[22:05] <Sue>Thanks

[22:05] <R_Adams> Isn't narrative an account, a report or a story?

[22:05] <Deena> Yes, Espen, all, where are good places to go to discuss and find out about these interlocking fields of games, narrative, and hypertext?

[22:05] <Espen> DAC

[22:05] <Andrew> It's possible to make hypertext work without being able to design and classify what you are making...

[22:06] <Andrew> Sorry, define.

[22:06] <Deena> Right, What is the URL for DAC? It will be in April 2001 at Brown University

[22:06] <Espen>

[22:06] <vika> Deena - I found useful.

[22:06] <Guy_Vardi> it depends. you can treat narrative as a sequence of event with a certain order (dramatic arc), or as interaction between characters (Doom)

[22:06] <Espen> Yes, alan< QED, a poorly understood field or fields

[22:07] <Helen> Narrative is movement

[22:07] <CFUNK> OK interesting reading all of you here. Gotta go in a minute. Holy happy days to you!

[22:08] <Sue> Bye chris - nice to see you again.

[22:08] <vika> Night Chris.

[22:08] <mAz> If there _is_ no story then the reader can always make one.

[22:08] <Haimish> Bye.

[22:08] <Claire_Dinsmore> I'm not sure - forward/back/sequential movement maybe, otherwise the term would be more inclusive than I think it is.

[22:08] <Espen> Guy, if narrative is interaction, what is this? narrative also?

[22:08] <Alan_Sondheim> I'm curious why this discussion has focused so much on definition and its dissolution by example. It's been frustrating that way, as if we needed the specificity of terms to discuss anything here today.

[22:08] <CFUNK> Later.

[22:08] <Deena> Espen, thanks for a really enjoyable hour! I think we have a lot of threads here we can continue, at trace, ELo, and at DAC.

[22:08] <Espen> Bye Chris!

[22:08] <Claire_Dinsmore> Bye Chris

[22:08] <Sue> Yes, thanks Espen.

[22:08] <Alan_Sondheim> Bye Chris, talk w/ you later.

[22:08] <Sue> I may well get back to you if that's OK.

[22:08] vika adds her thanks to Espen.

[22:09] <Helen>Thank you for a stimulating discussion Espen.

[22:09] Katherine smiles and adds her thanks, too.

[22:09] <Espen> Hey, I wasn't finished!!

[22:09] Alan_Sondheim also wants to thank Espen - whose book is probably the best in this area (I/he thinks)

[22:09] <Espen> Just kidding.

[22:09] Sue laughs.

[22:09] <Claire_Dinsmore> Yes, thank you Es.

[22:09] <Andrew> Maybe reading hypertext is so much work because we don't even know what it is.

[22:09] Julianne rattles her chains appreciatively.

[22:09] <Helen> Give us your closing statement!!

[22:09] <Deena> Thanks for coming all you guys! I'll pass around more wine and cheese as fuel for discussion. Stay as long as you like.

[22:09] <Espen> My pleasure.

[22:09] Katherine rains at Andrew.

[22:09] <David> Sorry I have to leave, too.

[22:09] <Guy_Vardi> it is. Doom might considered to be a very limited or shallow narrative.

[22:09] Katherine grins, too.

[22:09] <Deena> The chat, as with all ELO program chats will be archived at

[22:10] <vika> Espen, I don't think you'd be kicked off if you decide to stay "off-the-clock."

[22:10] Deena welcomes all, including Espen to stay and have fun

[22:10] <Sue> I need to go too - I enjoyed meeting you all

[22:10] <Deena> Guy, what is doom might?

[22:10] <vika> Doom might be? Doom the kill-monsters computer game?

[22:10] <Margaret> Thank you, Espen.

[22:11] <Andrew>Thanks.

[22:11] <Claire_Dinsmore> Moi aussi, goodbye everyone.

[22:11] <Espen> narratives and games are different interfaces.

[22:11] Deena passes around more wine, cheese, and properly named biscuits.

[22:11] <Sue> Bye everyone - I have to go now.

[22:11] <Haimish> Bye.

[22:11] <Espen> You're welcome Margaret.

[22:11] <Alan_Sondheim> Bye Sue.

[22:11] mAz should go too.

[22:11] <Margaret> Bye, everyone.

[22:11] <Espen> Bye sue!

[22:11] <Deena> Right, Espen, there are similarities. I think we can compare the interfaces.

[22:11] Sue waves to all and goes off to play tetris.

[22:11] vika wonders if she's missed narrative being defined. Might a computer game (with its own interface) include a narrative as part of its appeal?

[22:12] <Guy_Vardi> Yes. Each character had his own motivation. The interaction between the develops a narrative.

[22:12] Deena wonders if games and narrative don't share more than we suspect

[22:12] Julianne throws out a URL on Full Reactive Eyes Environment (in new console game)

[22:12] <Espen> Guy, that could be true for anything.

[22:12] <Deena> The motivation in game playing seems to be the same as in reading ht--to discover new facts, put things together in new ways.

[22:12] <Andrew> I know everybody wants to figure out "what it is", but as writers/artists we could also imagine "what kind of experience do I want to create", and not worry about how to classify it... just worry about building it...

[22:13] Julianne applauds

[22:13] mAz waves bye.

[22:13] <Deena> Yes, the question for both game developers and writers is really "What kind of experience do I want to create?"

[22:13] <Espen>The problem is that people see narrative as dominant to games.

[22:13] <Deena> Why do people see the narrating dominating the games? Is it the storytelling in the game?

[22:13] <vika> Depends on what kind of games, Espen. Interactive fiction? Sure. Doom? Possibly, if you really stretch the definition of narrative.

[22:14] <Deena> But in games like tetris, there is no real storytelling going on.

[22:14] <Espen> Many reasons, Deena.

[22:14] <Andrew> How does that become a problem?

[22:14] <vika> Tetris? No.

[22:14] <Alan_Sondheim> I'm curious, if tension/release (term from dance) is common to, say, Tetris and most games - wouldn't this also be a characteristic of narrative - which brings up issues of goals, goal orientation, etc.

[22:14] <Haimish> I arrive late and am confused. Please tell me why we need to define narrative for this discussion. (ducks)

[22:14] <Espen> Andrew, people who think a boat is some kind of car without wheels, have a problem.

[22:15] Deena tosses geese and ducks around the room in a purely random fashion.

[22:15] <Andrew>True.

[22:15] vika quacks.

[22:15] Alan_Sondheim goes amphibious.

[22:15] Deena zooms around in a boat without wheels on her living room carpet.

[22:15] <Espen> By thinking of games in terms of narratives, we miss the boat, so to speak.

[22:15] <Alan_Sondheim> The hull thing? (sorry...).

[22:15] <Andrew> So then build a jetski...

[22:16] <Espen> Oh, they try that all right.

[22:16] <Deena> What terms should we use when thinking about games?

[22:16] vika tends to think of a narrative in terms of a game.

[22:16] <Espen>Try game.

[22:16] Deena wonders if the narratives are the hull or the wheel.

[22:16] Andrew smiles.

[22:16] <Espen> Games are not narratives, they are games.

[22:16] Deena starts to play.

[22:16] <Deena> Why do we play games?

[22:16] <Deena> Why do we read narratives?

[22:17] <Espen> Just as the vice versa is true.

[22:17] <Alan_Sondheim> Back to Wittgenstein, then - how would you define a game? Or is there any sort of overarching definition.

[22:17] <Guy_Vardi> It is fun.

[22:17] <Katherine> Is that the reason why definitions of these terms is helpful? So that we can get a sense of expectations?

[22:17] <Helen> Life is a game.

[22:17] <Helen> but not always fun.

[22:17] <Alan_Sondheim> Some games aren't fun at all. And life isn't necessarily a game.

[22:17] <Deena> Yes, I think we do come with a different set of expectations to tetris, hypertexts, multimedia, narrative stories...

[22:17] <Andrew> Unfortunately, you will have to call your work something, before people are willing to try it (or try to sell it).

[22:17] <Espen> Yes.

[22:18] <Alan_Sondheim> So perhaps the definition is intrinsically tied into political economy...

[22:18] <Helen> Andrew this is where we came in... we call it what we expect the people who will read it will want it to be called!

[22:18] <Espen> Who decides what to call a thing.

[22:18] <Andrew> Yeah that might work.

[22:18] <Deena> Yes, we see games selling in millions, we borrow game aspects into narrative, and we have fun zooming around.

[22:18] <Andrew> Journalists.

[22:18] <Helen> It's getting late, I'm not comprehensible.

[22:18] <Alan_Sondheim> Those in power - Chomsky saying that a language is a dialect with an army ...

[22:19] Deena proposes setting up a naming convention similar to the French watchdog commission on language.

[22:19] <Espen> Not to mention humpty dumpty.

[22:19] <Alan_Sondheim> We already have the W3 consortium...

[22:19] Helen wonders if we could get a grant for a research project on this to keep us all occupied for a decade or two.

[22:19] <Alan_Sondheim> And all the RFCs.

[22:19] Deena always wondered where humpty got the money to pay the words on Saturday nights.

[22:19] <Alan_Sondheim> Helen, what is this "this" ?

[22:19] <Espen> Well, games are bigger than movies.

[22:20] Deena wonders if people want to look into how things are called. It is sort of like looking into making sausages of looking into the American way of voting.

[22:20] <Helen> Alan, exactly, we need to define it as our first job!

[22:20] <Andrew> But only a sliver of society plays games, but everybody sees movies.

[22:20] <Deena> What do we want out of playing games?

[22:20] <Deena> What do we want out of seeing movies?

[22:20] <Alan_Sondheim> Again it's a question of measure - how is "bigger" ?

[22:20] <Espen> Andrew, where do you get your stats?

[22:21] <Andrew> Games are bigger than movies because teenagers spend hundreds a year on games.

[22:21] <Alan_Sondheim> WHAT DO WE WANT ?

[22:21] <Haimish> A way to eat candy without everyone seeing us?

[22:21] <Deena> Are we saying computer games, card games, sport games?

[22:21] <Espen> Not only teenagers.

[22:21] Katherine doesn't agree with Andrew at all there.. Wants him to define "games" and ducks.

[22:21] <Alan_Sondheim> Sure and Ring Around the Rosie as well.

[22:21] <Helen> and EVERYBODY uses mobile phones (at least here in the UK)

[22:21] Deena surreptitiously passes out never ending, invisible candy bars and popcorn with real movie butter.

[22:21] <Andrew> Not only teenagers, but I think mostly guys age 12-25.

[22:21] <Alan_Sondheim> (Games don't have to have winners)

[22:21] <Espen> Look, games are the dominant art form of our century.

[22:22] <Espen> Like movies in the 20th.

[22:22] <Deena> Thinks about games as varied as ring around the rosy, bridge and D&D and shudders. What a too wide field.

[22:22] <Alan_Sondheim> How so?

[22:22] <Andrew> Interactive experiences will be the dominant art form of the century...

[22:22] <Haimish> Espen, I disagree about games and art. What about advertising.

[22:22] <Espen> Just wait and see.

[22:22] <Deena> How are we defining art forms?

[22:22] <Espen> Good point.

[22:22] <vika> Espen, that was a good point above: what do you mean by games? I'd assumed computer/video games, but that's not a given, is it.

[22:22] Deena wonders how much advertisements are games.

[22:22] <Alan_Sondheim> Deena, this is why we should all look at Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations again - he talks about games as "families of usages" - that there is no specific definition. Which is why this discussion keeps falling out and running around amphibious...

[22:23] <Deena> Right. We have no more defined games than we have writing, hypertext, nonsequential or any other term we've been tossing about.

[22:23] <Alan_Sondheim> How can we define the dominant form eleven months in? (Or one month behind, depending on the def?)

[22:23] <Espen> Alan, Ludde had a good point, but the same could be said for stories.

[22:23] <Guy_Vardi> "Art form" is being defined by the new form of arts and media. Which leads us back to hypertext as a medium.

[22:23] <Deena> Now I'm thinking about games as mediums and getting even more muddled.

[22:23] <Andrew> (I've been defining "games" as the pop-culture definition of games, like adventure games, shooters, etc. For example, I don't consider my work, Petz and Babyz, to be games).

[22:24] Deena calls in some psychic mediums to help define these clairvoyant fields.

[22:24] <Alan_Sondheim> I think there are deep reasons we can't define these - one might have to look at what's acceptable as a definition, etc. etc. - there's a whole can of worms here.

[22:24] <Espen> sims?

[22:24] <Deena> But, Andrew, I've heard petz described AS games...not narrative...

[22:24] <Andrew> Sims is very goal-oriented, as Will Wright readily admits, so it's more of a game.

[22:24] Deena retrieves the wormholes of definitions and tries to slip through them.

[22:24] <Andrew> But not everyone plays the sims that way, I admit.

[22:24] <Haimish> Petz? Is that those robot dogs things?

[22:25] <Alan_Sondheim> We're all slipping through them.

[22:25] <Deena> Andrew, please give the URL for petz again.

[22:25] <Espen> no, I mean, are petz a simulation rather than a game?

[22:25] <Andrew> Sure...

[22:25] <Andrew> Um, I think of petz as "hanging out" with characters.

[22:25] <R_Adams> My 11 yr old sits at his computer and plays games only if there is nothing else to do; he'd prefer a snowball fight.

[22:25] <Deena> What is the difference between a simulation (D&D) and a game?

[22:25] <Andrew> it's not a game, nor a strong narrative; there is emergent narrative however.

[22:25] <Espen> D&D is a game, Deena.

[22:25] <Haimish> Petz: Ugh.

[22:26] Andrew grins.

[22:26] <Deena> Right, and it is a simulation. You simulate the action.

[22:26] <vika> Is D&D a game for the game master, or a narrative?

[22:26] <R_Adams>The dominant artform out here on the west coast of Canada is still watercolours.

[22:26] <Espen> Yes.

[22:26] <Andrew> But we try to encourage emergent narrative.

[22:26] <Alan_Sondheim> But then... on a MUD... it need not be a game at all... but a state of mind, a situation or situations.

[22:26] Deena is sneakily getting to the point where there are no differences between games, simulation, and narrative again.

[22:26] <Alan_Sondheim> Randy, I prefer hyper-watercolours, click on a tree ...

[22:26] <Andrew> Perhaps there are "pure" extremes, and interesting intermixings in between.

[22:27] <Espen> Only if you ignore theory, Deena.

[22:27] <R_Adams> ;-)

[22:27] Deena snubs her nose at the theory again.

[22:27] <Andrew> When film came out was it considered a mixture of theater and photography?

[22:27] <Alan_Sondheim> But there aren't "pure" extremes - for every definition of "game" you could find a "pure" exception. That's the point. We're talking way out of context/phenomenology here.

[22:27] Barry waving goodbye.

[22:27] <Alan_Sondheim> Andrew, no, at least not by the audiences.

[22:28] <Barry> it's been interesting listening to you all, even if I've found it a little baffling at times G'night everyone.

[22:28] <Espen> Alan, game is not a theoretical concept.

[22:28] <Espen> I aim to baffle.

[22:28] Katherine cries and longs for familiar moo terrain.

[22:28] <Deena> But, Espen, what theoretical concepts ARE we talking about?

[22:28] <M_B> Night, Barry.

[22:29] <Alan_Sondheim> Espen, I'm not sure because I'm not sure what a theoretical - as opposed to other (x) - concept is.

[22:29] Deena assures Katherine we are looking for a good interface that will combine the best of trace and moo worlds.

[22:29] <Alan_Sondheim> I'd say that "game" is a loose association of concepts, that's about it.

[22:29] <Espen> A theoretical concept is grounded in analytical reasoning. You should be able to agree what it defines.

[22:30] Katherine grins.

[22:30] <Alan_Sondheim> Reasoning from what? If one begins with a taxonomic notion, then I'd agree with you.

[22:30] Deena wails up and down on the trampoline BUT, we haven't agreed on ANY definitions so far!

[22:30] <Espen> The problem arises when we jump to concepts.

[22:31] Deena admits to using the tramp to jump to too many concepts.

[22:31] <Guy_Vardi> Good night everybody.

[22:31] <Alan_Sondheim> But it's the lack of definitions that, in fact or fiction, would create the content of an other discourse...

[22:31] <Alan_Sondheim>That might in the long run be more fruitful.

[22:32] <Espen> We should not assume that we all have the same goals, Alan.

[22:33] <Alan_Sondheim> I don't assume that in the slightest, or that we necessarily have goals at all - that they might be imaginary, a posteriori, absented, etc. -

[22:33] Deena is a bit abashed about jumping so far out of the room, but accepts the bungee with an evil glee

[22:33] <Alan_Sondheim> Deena, please not the EVIL glee!

[22:33] <Espen> I am sure you have goals, although many people may seem not to have any

[22:34] vika hands Deena a parachute for her next adventure.

[22:34] <Deena> What are your goals, Espen?" asks with an evil gleam

[22:34] <Alan_Sondheim> Of course that's true, but not for all situations...

[22:34] <vika> Goals, as in, a specific purpose with which we joined this discussion?

[22:34] <Alan_Sondheim> Deena, please not the EVIL gleam!

[22:34] <Espen> I just think that I have goals different from artists. What motivates our interest in this topic. And that may lead to a kind of conflict.

[22:35] Deena subsides to just a moral neutral gleam in response to Alan's impassioned pleas

[22:35] <Alan_Sondheim> From all artists? Artists don't have similar goals at all necessarily - and for that matter some of us write theory as well -

[22:35] Katherine goes to mull these thoughts over and do laundry- not wholly unrelated tasks.

[22:35] <Katherine> Night all =)

[22:36] <Espen> Broadly speaking, of course.

[22:36] <Espen> But that is my experience.

[22:36] <Deena> I think the goals are different--I want to understand theory so I can refute it in my writing...

[22:36] <Espen> So do I actually.

[22:36] <Alan_Sondheim> Could you elaborate on this - on the kind of conflict, on the different goals.

[22:36] Andrew chuckles.

[22:36] Deena is shocked at the honest revelation, but... wants to know about Espen's goals.

[22:36] <Alan_Sondheim> For me, art making and theory making are different interwoven practices ...

[22:36] <Helen> definitions definitions why don't we just go away and WRITE (or play games...if that's what you like).

[22:37] Andrew nods.

[22:37] <Espen> As a theorist, I am not wearing two hats.

[22:37] <Espen> Good point Helen.

[22:37] <Deena> What are the goals in theory making?

[22:38] <Alan_Sondheim> Is theory that well-defined? When I look at your work or Lingis for example, I read it on any number of levels...

[22:38] <Espen> For me, to come up with the best description possible.

[22:38] <Deena> Why are we describing the games, writing, etc.?

[22:38] <Alan_Sondheim> Espen, could you elaborate?

[22:39] <Espen> If I was an artist, I would somehow be hampered by my artistic investments.

[22:39] <Deena> Why do theorists need to describe the phenomena?

[22:40] <Espen> Raison d'etre.

[22:40] <Alan_Sondheim> I'm not sure what you mean; some of us see our work as also descriptive (as artists) in this regard - and investments in any form of cultural practice are intense, difficult to describe...

[22:40] <Espen> Yes, I agree.

[22:40] Julianne clanks her chains intensely and in a way that is difficult to describe - thanks to all!

[22:40] <Espen> Art can certainly be a mode of investigation. And a very good one.

[22:41] <Andrew> Bye Julianne.

[22:41] <Alan_Sondheim> or modes... again, it's almost impossible to give coherence to widely-varying phenomena ...

[22:41] <Deena> Lemme get this straight. Theorists describe phenomena because they are theorists and that what theoriets do.

[22:41] <Espen> More or less, yes.

[22:42] <Alan_Sondheim> When I read Glas, I'm not sure what the discourse is, for example - literature/art/theory - and working across boundaries/borders questions those, is part of the fascination.

[22:42] Andrew wonders if Deena hopes they do it to help the artists? :-)

[22:42] <vika> Deena, I would hope that theorists would also describe the phenomena that they've had a chance to put into practice...

[22:42] <Alan_Sondheim> ...praxis...

[22:42] <Deena> OK and we read theory to get the descriptions of the praxis?

[22:42] <Espen> That would be a nice side effect, Andrew.

[22:43] vika reads a moderate amount of theory in order to be able to explain what it is she does to others who have nothing to do with the field, with the hopeful purpose of getting them interested in reading it. PLUS, self-education. But - selective. Because, I agree, goals are different.

[22:44] <Alan_Sondheim> I'm going to sign off. This discussion has honestly fascinated me - I want to thank everyone, Espen especially -

[22:44] <Alan_Sondheim> bye now...

[22:45] <Espen>Thank you Alan!

[22:45] <vika> Deena, why do you read theory? I have sensed an, uh, aversion to it from your corner. :)

[22:45] Andrew 's work nags at him to get back to it, and so he waves goodbye...

[22:45] <R_Adams>Thousands of miles and dozens of fingers: hard to be right on time ;-)

[22:45] <Deena> Vika, I think that is a great reason to read theory. It certainly makes more sense than my reason, which has always been to sabotage the theory in practice.

[22:45] <Espen> it is probably time to go for me too, bye!

[22:45] <Deena> Right, it is pretty late. Thanks again, this has been amazing!

[22:45] Deena could go on all night, but hands and eyes and brain won't cooperate.

[22:46] <vika> Goodnight, Espen, and thank you.

[22:46] <Deena> I like theory, I just don't like the "this is the way it is attitude" sometimes...

[22:46] <Andrew>Thanks Espen.

[22:46] <Espen> My pleasure!

[22:46] vika gets going as well.

[22:46] <Ev> Night Espen..thanks@

[22:46] vika nods at Deena, yesyesyes!

[22:46] <Deena> Good night all!

[22:46] <Helen> bye!

[22:46] vika waves to all.

[22:46] <Haimish> Goodbye, y'all. Thanks especially to Espen.

[22:46] Deena hands out night caps so we can think about all of this and add to the ELo bulletin board later.

[22:46] Andrew has quit IRC (QUIT: )

[22:46] Haimish has quit IRC (QUIT: )

[22:47] Espen has quit IRC (QUIT: )

[22:47] vika has quit IRC (QUIT: Leaving )

[22:47] <R_Adams> phew!

[22:47] <Deena> What a chat, eh!

[22:47] <Helen>That was intense!

[22:47] <R_Adams> who's really left here; let's have a roll call

[22:47] <Deena> Yep. Intense.

[22:48] <M_B> going!

[22:48] Ev wipes forehead and offers fresh cloths to others.

[22:48] <Deena> I am but I gotta get some sleep. Helen will send the log tomorrow.

[22:48] R_Adams climbs down from wall.

[22:48] <Helen> yes I will.... but it may need editing!

[22:48] Deena takes a fresh cloth and wipes down the sweat.

[22:48] <Helen> gotta go to bed....

[22:48] <M_B> ah Deena! no more cookies!

[22:48] Ev offers Randy a whole brownie...not just the crumbs.

[22:48] <Deena> Right, I always edit the chat. spelling, URLs, etc.

[22:48] <R_Adams>Thanks ev

[22:48] <Ev> spelling youareall.

[22:48] <Deena> I'll do it Monday...

[22:49] <Deena> I still have last week's!

[22:49] <R_Adams> so, what have we all learned...and will there be a test

[22:49] <M_B> I can't eat these Cyber cookies.

[22:49] <Helen> hi randy, ev, Mike, Margaret, see you next week maybe, or maybe not as it's Christmas eve.

[22:49] <Helen> bye!!

[22:49] <Ev> bye Helen.

[22:49] <M_B> see you H.

[22:49] <Deena> No tests, we'll rest for the hols.

[22:49] <R_Adams> bye Helen.

[22:49] <Deena> Bye all!

Session Close: Sun Dec 17 22:49:56 2000


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