Blog Post #1 (Aly)

For this entry we were asked to read various online works.  I figured they would all fit into a theme, but I feel as if they are more of a spread of the ideas featured in hypertext fiction.  Everything except for the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, of course.  The pieces that had the most impact on me were my body and Galatea, but I’ll make sure to shed a comment or two on all the lit pieces.  (Not really sure what to say on the DMCA… would rather have a discussion.)

my body – a wunderkammer: I will admit that at first I was a bit overwhelmed by the idea of this piece.  A story where you click on body parts and then there are more links for more body parts?  I questioned how it could even be connected.  I think it was all connected based on the intimacy of such narratives.  In the beginning, you have to specifically click on a body part and then in some of the entries there are multiple links.  I found myself clicking on whichever sounded most interesting, if it hadn’t already been visited.  I also thought the context of the text was very sexual and began to think that maybe because of this, the work was better more interactive and online.    It’s amazing how there seems to be some kind of media limitation as for what you can “get away with.”  But I just don’t think the context would have felt the same–the level of intimacy.  But, perhaps, in a book with the feel of the page under your hand…  Even still.  The way you explore the links could be parallel to the way the author predicts you’d explore the body.  Also, the sound and the images added a little bit more than the print.

I thought Galatea was very intimate as well.  It is interesting because you do not know much about the person you are playing or about the artist or about Galatea herself (which I find weird because they give you “control” over the critic).   You have to manipulate both the critic and the statue to get all of the sides of information.  This method is interesting because you have to think like the narrator would think, without knowing anything about him.  Galatea (the story as a whole) is frustrating at first, most so than page-turning literature, because you don’t always know the questions to ask to get the information.  I think this was mostly because of trying to figure out how to use the commands/what commands there actually were (there were more than in the help tab!). Even when you “cheat” you still find it interesting, but then it becomes like a traditonal story–there is no thinking involved to uncover the story.  After “cheating,”  I went back and tried a few things that I learned I could do to get a more interesting story, which was fun but didn’t have the same effect.

In the beginning, I experienced a very indifferent Galatea.  She didn’t hate me or like me.  I kept hitting dead ends and not being able to end the story (besides, of course, with “goodbye”).  The last one I did I was able to get an almost intimate relationship between the critic and Galatea.  It was very reserved, as certain things were blocked from being discussed, but I learned things I hadn’t seen before and I felt more connected to the story.  it was the first one I actually reached an ending without “cheating.”  (They ended on friendly terms, and progressively built up the relationship to allow more stuff to be talked about–it felt very realistic).   It went from don’t you dare touch me! to shouldn’t touch her, to touching her and indifferent, and in the end hugging her without thinking about it!  Overall, it did have a very “game” effect, with a desire to explore, avoid failure, and win.

Library of Babel seemed a bit out of place.  I couldn’t see why it was featured among these other works.  The digital element did not seem very important to the story.  The footnotes were hyperlinks but the same general idea is easily performed in printed books.  The story itself did not stick with me at all, and I found myself having to re-read passages over and over again just so I felt like I had a basic understanding of it.

Change the Code, Save the Text:  I felt like this was an excellent introduction to online text/literature and its artform.  I have been hand-coding websites for over ten years now and I never really thought about the code as an art form.  I guess I just saw it as… code.  I like that you are able to read the essay three different ways, as if to cater to preference or curiosity.  I found I just preferred the typical method of reading, but I did go through the code.  I was hoping for something more exciting, code-wise.  Maybe some of the splendor is gone when you know how to read it.  I thought it was a creative way to read an essay.  The interaction of horizontal and vertical scrolling provided a twist that came across not as practical, but as a sample of style manipulated by simple code.  I also think the additions of hyperlinks to link to the websites and stories he referred to was in good taste.  Normally, an author would have to use a thorough description of what he’s referring to, but a link supplies an exact replica.

These styles of electronic literature are new to me.  I haven’t quite developed how exactly I feel about them, but I definitely commend them for artistic merit.  I really like exploring this literary area out of my “comfort zone” (although I am not uncomfortable at all) and getting exposure to this art.

– Alicia “Aly” Ferguson

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~ by sinthetix on January 17, 2011.

One Response to “Blog Post #1 (Aly)”

  1. You talked about the type of content that might lend itself to an online format – the interactivity of the “my body” website could allow for the more intimate nature of the passages it contains. The reader brings certain expectations of what is allowed or expected of the online, hypertext format. You also mentioned that the author might direct their writing and design to fit the way they expect the reader to use the online text. The expectations of the reader and the author will influence the effect of the final text.

    I can relate to the way you note that code will have a different feel to it based on your own relationship to code. The idea of code as a format in itself makes invisible code visible for people who have never seen code, but it also makes code visible to coders in the sense that the code can have become a part of their ordinary background, acknowledged in different ways, a different type of “invisibility”.

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