ELC Volume 2 is out!

The Electronic Literature Collection Volume 2 is now out! Congratulations to editors Talan Memmott, Brian Kim Stefans, Rita Raley, and Brian Kim Stefans on bringing this project to fruition. The collection includes 63 works in 6 languages from 12 countries, and includes a wide variety of work, ranging from the classic web hypertext The Unknown, to the amazing narrative database / textual performance work The Last Performance, the minimalist poetry generator stylings of Nick Montfort’s PPG256, to Alan Bigelow’s philsophocomical “comic strips for the Web” Brainstrips, to Allison Cliffords visually stunning interactive treatment of the poetry of ee cummings The Sweet Old Etc.

The last two “Platform 2” columns I have written for the Norwegian literary quarterly Vagant (the one currently on newstands and the other in press) have been focused on works in the ELC2. In celebration of the release of the collection, I’ll post the English versions of both columns here.

Letters that Matter: Review of the Electronic Literature Collection in ebr

John Zuern offers a detailed and insightful review of the Electronic Literature Collection, Volume 1 in ebr. Among other aspects of the Collection the review addresses is whether or not the difference between print and electronic literature is anything other than trivial?

In asking this question, I am in no way suggesting that nothing is at stake; on the contrary, I am seeking to underscore the urgency of the multifaceted project, carried on by many different artists and critics and editors, to consolidate something like “electronic literature” as a domain of creation and inquiry that can do justice both to the advancement and investigation of its material culture and to the philosophical, conceptual frameworks that guide that advancement and investigation. At the heart of this project is the relationship between protocols of computation and protocols of human language use, a relationship that despite all the critical attention it has received continues to present itself as vexed and indeterminate.

Visionary Landscapes: Electronic Literature Organization 2008 Conference

The ELO has just announced a call for papers and works for a major electronic literature conference next May in Washington state. I have posted the announcement below. The conference website is not yet online, but will be available on eliterature.org in August.

Visionary Landscapes: Electronic Literature Organization 2008 Conference

Thursday, May 29-Sunday, June 1, 2008
Vancouver, Washington
Sponsored by Washington State University Vancouver & the Electronic Literature Organization
Dene Grigar & John Barber, Co-Chairs
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Electronic Literature in the Chronicle of Higher Education

The Chronicle of Higher Education published a multimedia piece on electronic literature including an article (archive), a video piece, and a podcast interview with N. Katherine Hayles. Look for video link under the screenshot of the Electronic Literature Collection, and the audio interview off to the right. The Chronicle covered the Open Mouse/Open Mic reading at the ELO’s recent “Future of Electronic Literature” Symposium in College Park Maryland. Although the preoccupations of the reportage are a bit noob-ish (the video reporter mentions that the reading was plagued with technical difficulties when in fact it was a comparatively glitch-free evening in comparison to others, and many of the reporters’ questions were focused on the fact that there is not a massive popular audience for electronic literature rather than more interesting concerns — Who is the Stephen King of electronic literature? Well, ahem . . . King is a tough one but Robert Coover is sort of our Oprah . . .), it is nonetheless great see this esteemed weekly showing an interest in electronic lit, and Hayle’s audio interview is well worth the price of admission (particularly if you already subscribe to the Chronicle).

Remarks from the UK Electronic Literature Collection Launch, et plus, deux reviews

At the request of Kate Pullinger, I have posted my remarks from last week’s UK launch of the Electronic Literature Collection.

Et plus, there are two new reviews of the ELC. From Montreal, there is a very thorough and intelligent review of the Collection by Patrick Ellis (in English and French) published in Le Magazine électronique du CIAC. From Austria, there is a very good review of the ELC and other works of electronic literature by Franz Thalimar in Der Standard (in German).

Two New Publications from the ELO

The Electronic Literature Organization (ELO) is pleased to announce two new additions to its series of publications. N. Katherine Hayles’s primer, “Electronic Literature: What Is It?” and Joseph Tabbi’s “Setting a Direction for the Directory: Toward a Semantic Literary Web” are now available on the Electronic Literature Organization’s website.

N. Katherine Hayles’s “Electronic Literature: What Is It?” establishes a foundation for understanding e-lit in its various forms and differentiates creative e-lit from other types of digital materials. This primer serves the twin purposes of reaching general readers and serving students and institutional audiences by providing descriptions of major characteristics of electronic literature and reflections on the nature of the field. This piece will also appear as the introductory chapter of Hayles’s book Electronic Literature: Playing, Interpreting, and Teaching (coming from Notre Dame Press in fall 2007). The book will also include the CD-ROM of the Electronic Literature Collection, Volume One — a compendium of 60 digital works of poetry and prose, published by the ELO in October 2006.

Joseph Tabbi’s “Setting a Direction for the Directory: Toward a Semantic Literary Web” outlines and analyzes the critical issues relating to the description and classification of e-lit. Tabbi describes an approach that will allow the ELO Directory and other digital resources to be more useful, maintainable, transparent, and integrated with evolving technologies. The work organizes the terms of the problem into a call for an overall strategy of editorial and community-driven discourse about e-lit that will also be dependent on metadata solutions that are convergent with those described and implemented in other ELO publications.
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ELC UK Launch Report

The Electronic Literature Collection UK Launch event I attended Thursday night in Leicester, England went very well. About 40 people turned up for the salon, including many of the former trAce regulars, interested local people, and people who took the train up from London. I gave a short introduction to the Collection, and Kate Pullinger, Jon Ingold, and Chris Joseph, read from the work. In his introduction, John Cayley discussed the context of electronic literature with the traditional literary world and the art world, showed a bit of Translation, and asked us to think about whether this form of literary art was literature or something else entirely. Jon Ingold gave what was possibly the best short introduction I have yet heard interactive fiction, in particular the brutality of the constraints involved in writing IF, before guiding the audience through a short reading of All Roads. In her presentation of her work with Chris Joseph on Inanimate Alice and other projects, Kate Pullinger raised questions about the economic models for electronic writing, and discussed how Inanimate Alice is in part an experiment in developing a commercial model for e-lit. She also discussed iStories, a project she is working on with Chris to develop a commercial toolset of electronic literature applications that would enable authors with little design or programming experience to more easily develop works in Flash. Donna Leishman also sent in a prepared text which a De Montfort Ph.D. student, Jess Laccetti, read to the crowd while Chris demonstrated a bit of Deviant: The Possession of Christian Shaw. We had a short but spirited panel discussion afterwards, discussing the differences between teaching elit as creative writing and teaching it as literature, economic models for electronic lit, and other things. One of the encouraging things about this event was that a number of readers who had never before encountered e-lit were in the audience, were clearly actively interested in what they saw and heard. I also met a Polish Ph.D. student who is currently living in London and writing his dissertation about e-lit, and overheard a couple of people from London say that they heard about the event at Grand Text Auto ; ). It was a very good evening, and I’m grateful to the Institute for Creative Technologies, particularly Chris Joseph for putting it together. Jess has also blogged the event, and posted short videos of Kate Pullinger’s and Jon Ingold’s readings.

(Process-Intensive) Literature

These are the slides from my 6-minute talk at the ELO Future of Electronic Literature Symposium, not the talk itself, but a rough outline of it. Maybe after I finish the overdue article I’m writing I’ll replace this text with some explanation of what I actually said, but I know William Wend was looking for these, and since he’s like one of the only people who ever comments on this blog I thought he’d appreciate it. The discussion that followed the panel presentations was very good.

ELO’s Future of Electronic Literature Symposium

Glow in the Dark AudienceThe Electronic Literature Organization’s Future of Electronic Literature Symposium last week at MITH at the University of Maryland, College Park, was a great event, bringing together e-lit writers, scholars, and an interested public together for an open mouse/open mic, a daylong symposium, and an ELO board meeting. Highlights included Katherine Hayle’s keynote (nicely summarized at jilltxt), considering the idea of “literary” vs. “literature” and providing very intelligent close readings of a variety of works of electronic literature, readings from new works by Stephanie Strickland, Rob Kendall, Nick Montfort, Deena Larsen, and others, as well as three very good panel discussions. The process-intensive panel (also very GTxA-intensive) looked at the idea of process from several different angles ranging from process-intensive collaboration, to natural language interface processing, to story generation. The international panel featured demonstrations of electronic literature from around the world, including works in Spanish, French, Catalan, and Nordic languages, and also highlighted the fact that electronic literature is a global movement — ELO isn’t the only organization concerned with this work, but has shared interests and opportunities for collaboration with organizations including nt2, Elinor, Hermeneia, and others. The Future of Electronic Literature panel was also an engaging discussion of how new technologies might effect electronic literature, and how new ways of organizing material and collaborating might effect the way that we shape the field. I hope my compatriots will fill in some of the details at Grand Text Auto. In the meantime, enjoy some photos of the goingson: flickr sets posted by me, Jason deVinney, and Laura Borras.

Edward Picot’s Review of the Electronic Literature Collection, Volume One

Edward Picot recently posted a lengthy review of The Electronic Literature Collection, Volume One. Picot clearly spent a good deal of time with the collection, and has both positive and negative things to say about it. I think that Picot has attempted to be fair and balanced in his discussion of the collection, and I’m grateful to him for giving the ELC such careful consideration. He is one of the first people to review the ELC intelligently and at length in English, though as usual, the Swedes are ahead of the game.

In the end, Picot finds the ELC “an essential collection,” and encourages “Anyone interested in the field of elctronic literature to get it on DVD,” though along the way he finds a few nits to pick. The collection is actually published on the web and CD-ROM (old-school) and along with Picot I encourage you to get your copy of the free, Creative Commons-licensed collection of electronic literature, and then make copies of it for your friends.

I’d like to just briefly address a few of the points Picot makes, in order to clarify my perspective as one of the editors. I hope that Nick, Stephanie, and Kate will also jump in with comments if they’d like. I’ll restrict my comments to Picot’s critique of the curatorial/editorial aspects of the project. Picot also reviews four works in the collection, two (“The Jew’s Daughter” by Judd Morrissey and “Windsound” by John Cayley) positively, and two (“MyBALL” by Shawn Rider and “Carrier” by Melanie Rackham) negatively. There are sixty works in the collection, and I think that everyone is entitled to their opinion of each of those works. None of them were included casually. Each of the four editors thought that each work merited inclusion.
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Review of the Electronic Literature Collection in Svenska Dagbladet

There’s a great review (online, pdf) by of the Electronic Literature Collection, Volume One, by Jesper Olsen in today’s edition of Svenska Dagbladet, one of Sweden’s biggest newspapers. Jill translated it for me when I got home. It’s very smart and well-written, and it’s great to see the review alongside of the book reviews, where it belongs.

Autostart — Thursday and Friday at Kelly Writers House

I’ll be there in spirit and via videoconference Friday. If you’re in the area, you should definitely attend.

: AUTOSTART – A Festival of Digital Literature
. Kelly Writers House, October 26 & 27
: Celebrating the Electronic Literature Collection, volume 1
: MACHINE series # Electronic Literature Organization
: http://writing.upenn.edu/wh/autostart.html
:=:#=:.#=::==.=….:…> Charles Bernstein
.#.=..=:#.=::===…:.:.> Jim Carpenter
::.=.==…::==:.=#:…#> Mary Flanagan
:#.:…:.:=#..=.=.=:==:> N. Katherine Hayles
:.=#:.===.:.:::.=..#..=> Daniel C. Howe
:=#:::=:.#:=.=.=….=..> Aya Karpinska
..:.==#==::#==:……:.> Aaron Levy
:#=.=..:..=.::=::#..==.> Marjorie Luesebrink
::=:=:…:=..#.==#.=.:.> Nick Montfort
…..:==::.=.#:.=.==#.:> Stuart Moulthrop
:=…=#:…:::=#===..:.> Jason Nelson
:#..=.==..:=.=..:#.=:::> Jena Osman
:..=.=.=.=#:=:#.:…=::> Bob Perelman
:::=..=:.===.:#:.=#….> Aaron A. Reed
:….:.:.===#=.:=:#=..:> Scott Rettberg
.==:.=…:..#.::=:.=.=#> Ron Silliman
.=…:=#.=:..=:..#.==::> Brian Kim Stefans
:#.::…=:.:.==.==:..#=> Stephanie Strickland
…=..=#=::=.=..:.:=:.#> Noah Wardrip-Fruin
: All events except the tour of Slought take place at the
: Kelly Writers House, 3805 Locust Walk, University of Pennsylvania,
. Philadelphia, PA
: 1:00-2:30 pm Discussion (Arts Cafe)
. A conversation about writing and literature in the digital
. age, featuring four prominent poets:
: > Charles Bernstein – University of Pennsylvania
: > Jena Osman – Temple University
: > Bob Perelman – University of Pennsylvania
: > Ron Silliman – Silliman’s Blog
: 2:30-5:30 pm The Open Machine Open House
: Electronic literature available for reading and discussion
: throughout the downstairs area, with guided tours at
. 3:30 pm & 4:30 pm by two Electronic Literature Collection,
: volume 1 edtitors:
: > Stephanie Strickland – New York City
: > Nick Montfort – University of Pennsylvania
: 4:00-5:30 pm Wet Digits Workshop
: An introductory workshop for those new to HTML and digital
: writing, led by the editors of The New Media Reader:
. > Noah Wardrip-Fruin – University of California, San Diego
: > Nick Montfort – University of Pennsylvania
: [[[ RSVP REQUIRED: contact wh@writing.upenn.edu ]]]
: 5:30-7:30 pm Reading (Arts Cafe)
: Presentations of electronic literature by Electronic
: Literature Collection, volume 1 contributors:
: > Mary Flanagan – Hunter College
: > Aya Karpinska – Brown University
: > Stuart Moulthrop – University of Baltimore
: > Aaron A. Reed – Salt Lake City
. > Noah Wardrip-Fruin – University of California, San Diego
: FRIDAY Oct 27
: 10:30-11:30 am Tour of Slought Foundation (4017 Walnut St)
. Slought Foundation broadly encourages new futures for
: contemporary life through public programs featuring
: international artists and theorists.
: > Aaron Levy – Slought Foundation Executive Director
. 1:00-4:00 pm Electronic Writing Jam (Room 202)
: A time to write collaboratively and to discuss forms,
: techniques, and technologies, hosted by:
: > Jim Carpenter – University of Pennsylvania
: Participants include readers and editors from AUTOSTART’s
: Thursday program as well as:
: > Daniel C. Howe – Brown University
: > Brian Kim Stefans – Richard Stockton College of New Jersey
: Participants by videoconference include two editors of
: the Electronic Literature Collection, volume 1:
. > N. Katherine Hayles – University of California, Los Angeles
: > Scott Rettberg – University of Bergen, Norway
: An editor of volume 2 and volume 1 contributor:
: > Marjorie Luesebrink – Irvine Valley College
: And volume 1 contributor:
. > Jason Nelson – Griffith University, Australia
: [[[ RSVP REQUIRED: contact wh@writing.upenn.edu ]]]

Electronic Literature Collection, Volume One

Electronic Literature Collection, Volume One

The Electronic Literature Collection Volume One, which I edited along with Nick Montfort, Katherine Hayles, and Stephanie Strickland, has been published. Nick sent along an instant message with visual verification. The Collection, which includes 60 works of electronic literature published under a Creative Commons license, will shortly be available for free from the Electronic Literature Organization via download or physical CD-ROM.

I’m Telling You I Was Framed: Interview with Simon Mills

I was recently interviewed by Simon Mills for framed, his retrospective project of interviews contextualizing digital art and writing between 1998-2004. The interview took shape in the form of several email exchanges over a period of few months. I appreciate the opportunity that Simon gave me to contextualize my past and current projects, in addition to my thoughts on the current state of the field of electronic literature more generally.

Wherefore Genre?

These are my notes for the talk I gave yesterday at MITH on genre in electronic literature in the context of the forthcoming Electronic Literature Collection that I’m editing along with Nick Montfort, Kate Hayles, and Stephanie Strickland. Even though much of the talk was planned the night before and on the train out, it turned out pretty well. There were about a dozen intelligent folks in the room, and I had the chance to tour MITH, which will soon be the new home of the ELO. I’m very pleased that the ELO will be housed in such a great environment. I’ll be cleaning the talk up and delivering a new version of it in a couple of weeks at Brown as part of the upcoming 2006 e-fest.

Wherefore Genre?


* “Centering moments” — 2001 E-LIt Awards, 2002 State of Arts, 2006 Collection

* Dissemination function
–Importance and meaning of creative commons
–Importance of viewing/reading works as a collection for scholarly discourse.

* Importance for writers of “place of honor” in the context of a creative culture that exists outside of any sort of traditional market economy, or real-world ftf social structures.

* Archival function

* In some cases (not flash), makes files accessible/searchable for a different kind of scholarly access (forensic) than simple web viewing

Comparison to previous “centering moments” — almost as many submissions, more of them “legitimate.” Less hypertext, more forms. Focus in our selections on representing a broad overview of different types of types. Process: combination of open submission and direct invitation. Accepted only works that would function in a standalone. Criteria for selection was unanimous agreement among the four editors. Resulting collection will include about 60 works of e-lit, out this fall.
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MITH Speaker Series

This fall the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities, soon to be the new home of the Electronic Literature Organization, has lined up a great series of lectures focused on electronic literature and digital archives. I’ll be giving a talk, “Wherefore Genre? Categorizing Contemporary New Media Writing” on March 7th, and there are many other talks I wish I could attend, including talks by Johanna Drucker and Jerome McGann, Shelley Jackson, Alan Liu and Joseph Tabbi, and Scott McCloud.

The Electronic Literature Collection — Call for Works

The Electronic Literature Organization seeks submissions for the first Electronic Literature Collection. We invite the submission of literary works that take advantage of the capabilities and contexts provided by the computer. Works will be accepted until January 31, 2006. Up to three works per author will be considered.

The Electronic Literature Collection will be an annual publication of current and older electronic literature in a form suitable for individual, public library, and classroom use. The publication will be made available both online, where it will be available for download for free, and as a packaged, cross-platform CD-ROM, in a case appropriate for library processing, marking, and distribution. The contents of the Collection will be offered under a Creative Commons license so that libraries and educational institutions will be allowed to duplicate and install works and individuals will be free to share the disc with others. Continue reading