The Bible: Online (Print Textual Artifact Online- Megan Hall)

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We’ve talked a lot in class about the idea of printed text online, and how this changes their meaning or interpretation.  While searching for one of my own, I had difficulty narrowing down something that is greatly affected when put online. I thought of popular books that were widely loved when I was younger, or ones that had gained popularity recently, but I became struck by a text that is famously the “best-selling book of all time”: The Bible.

The Bible, of course, has many different translations to fit the various subdivisions of Catholicism that I, admittedly, am not particularly well-versed on, however by just typing “The Bible online” into Google you are met with about 140,000,000 results instantly. This is a mind-boggling, arguably unimaginable number of websites which has different editions of The Bible available for consumption. What was particularly interesting to me was the concept of “searching” these websites for particular passages of the text.

For example, I came across a website contains the “New Revised Standard Version” of The Bible. The home-page of this website has the option to search the text by either “bible reference”, “passage”, or simply a “word or phrase”. By being able to explore The Bible in this way, people are able to see only what they want to see. This particular website even gives you the option to omit certain credentials of the text.

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Well, you may think, what’s the problem with that? Sure, there are benefits to this system. The ability to retrieve certain quotes or passages from The Bible in this way is, certainly, convenient. However, there are a lot of ways in which this materialization of a holy text online could be harmful. For example, by being able to “omit” certain things in a text, people are able to read this book in whatever way is most convenient for them, and, with the amount of disparity and disagreement arisen in the world based on the different interpretations of this very text, I wonder if this will have any sort of effect on those existing tensions.

Montfort’s “Toward a Theory of Interactive Fiction” and the Role of Puzzles. – Brendan Juodzevich

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Nick Montfort in his “Toward a Theory of Interactive Fiction” first puts the issue of categorizing works as either “games” or “stories” aside and focuses upon the various theoretical frameworks that have come up short regarding interactive fiction. He first proposes that a theory not focus upon the specific workings of a program but rather start “considering the program instead as a black box that accepts input and generates output”, (197). He then continues to point out various differences among interactive fiction such as the creation of either a narrative world, wherein the interactor seems involved only as far as the narrator allows, or a simulated world, wherein the interactor is immersed in a creative universe and becomes closer to being a player character, or a being in this simulated world.

Montfort also poses a basic structural outline, or rather deduces one, which consists of a  prologue, an initial situation, and a final reply. This structure then boils down to an introduction and our first and last inputs, but this last input brings about an ending or a continuation of the text that we cannot further influence as it is the culmination of our prior choices. In regard to the structure Montfort employs new phrasing to replace the ideas of “winning” and “losing”, instead using the phrases a “successful traversal” and an “unsuccessful traversal”, which draws attention to the traversal or experience of a piece of interactive fiction rather than the satisfaction of the end result or final reply.

I found one of the most interesting points of Montfort’s essay to be concerning the role of puzzles, as he writes, “a puzzle does need to be presented as a challenge and to be non-obvious to the interactor, not necessarily to the player character” (227). This speaks to the problems many of us encountered in Takacs’s Silent Horror where we understood what the next step should be, or what we wanted it to be, but not necessarily what the proper command or input should be. Not only does seem to me to conflate the challenging and the frustrating but also seems to contradict Montfort’s earlier statement regarding his lack of interest in the workings of the programs themselves. In order to gain the correct command we must continually refine it not only in line with the clues of the text but also with simplicity in mind. It follows that we are tailoring our interactions with the constraints of the program in mind rather than some concept of a challenge thrown down by the piece of interactive fiction.

Though Montfort actually goes on the state these puzzles are not, or rather should not be, vital to traversing interactive fiction, the dichotomy of interactor and player character remains an interesting point in that we play two roles simultaneously. This is evident in the sprawling piece You Were Made for Loneliness by Kitty Horrorshow where you are faced with options that are struck-though; these are acts that the droid cannot do and therefore neither we can do, but we have a greater sense of awareness of these possibilities that perhaps the droid Naomi may have at those specific points.

Class Discussion on The Intruder and Kitty Horror Show- Alena Munro

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Ephemeral online literature has been the topic of discussion for the last couple of classes. Ephemeral is a Greek word that means “lasting only one day;” one of the difficulties with online literature is that one minute a piece can be present via a certain link and then the next day said link could 1) stop working or 2) lead the reader to a completely different online source. A perfect example of ephemeral online literature is The Intruder. For our October 27th class we were suppose to play an interactive game where we, the reader, had to prepare ourselves to encounter a violence home intruder. Sounds fun right?

However, when most of the class went to click on the link to play the game it either was not working properly or the computer device needed a downloadable component to work the game. Instead of giving up on the game (this was before Professor Geddes emailed the class that the link was indeed NOT working properly), I decided to try using Internet Explorer to open the link; when the link “worked” in a different internet browser I was brought to the same site that contained many interactive literary games. However, to my surprise when I got to class I realized that the same link that was suppose to bring me to The Intruder, brought me to a completely different site with games that did not have anything to do with The Intruder. Now if that does not scream unstable, I do not know what will.

Instead of concentrating mostly on The Intruder for the class period we read an interactive fiction piece called Pretty Girl on the website Kitty Horror Show; The online text played with our own assumptions of interactive fiction in order to convey the emotion behind the piece; as we have looked at many interactive texts and games we, as readers, are use to (or feel entitled to) a multitude of different choices. However, in Pretty Girl for a majority of the text the reader has very limited choices; this is suppose to make the reader sympathize with the powerlessness of the protagonist. The only instance in the text where the reader has a clear choice is at the end when the main character stands up for herself and gains back the power that she lost.

In addition to limited choices, Pretty Girl is also an ambiguous text; there are no graphics that help the reader visualize the experience. However, the lack of graphics makes the reader interpret the obscene topic for themselves. Moreover, the reader can create their own images in their heads that relate back to the text. Even though there are no graphic elements to Pretty Girl, the text has enough content where the reader can use their imagination to come up with their own interpretations. The last class discussuion was interesting because we as a class got the chance to see a piece of ephemeral literature without even realizing; moreover we had the opportunity to read a pretty cool interactive fiction. Who does not love a creepy horror filled prose poem just in time for Halloween?

Next Door Taker – Online Literary Fiction (Adriana Sutich)

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Inspired by the horror themed literary fiction that we looked at in class today, I decided to remain within that genre while searching for a piece of literary fiction to share.  One of my favorite ones that I came across is called “Next Door Taker”, and I found it particularly interesting because of the vivid and graphic details that make you feel like you are completely immersed within the story.  The storyline begins with you hearing a scream, which leads you to try to find out where it came from.  You follow a path which takes you through many obstacles and forces you to encounter things like rabid dogs, talking mannequins, and disembodied voices calling for help.  However, although this piece is supposed to be interactive, it really does not give the reader many choices.  It is structured much like the piece entitled “Pretty Girl” that we read in class, where most of the “pages” only have one choice that you can click on to drive the narrative forward.  However, the difference is that the few choices that we are allowed to make in this case do have an effect on how the story ends.  For example, there is an option towards the beginning of the narrative to choose the steel or wooden door, which will lead you on a different path and will ultimately result in a different ending.  The first time I played it, I died as a result of my choices, which made me want to go back and play again.  That, in my opinion, is one of the best things about online literary fiction.  The fact that the reader can actively choose how they want the narrative to go is a very gratifying experience.  While it is true that the creator, or “author” of the work set up predetermined pathways, the reader still gets the option to go back and redo the story again if they are not satisfied with the ending, and keep playing until they like the way that it turns out.  That, when combined with an interesting and engaging narrative, such as “Next Door Taker” makes for an overall very stimulating and enjoyable experience.

Here is the link to “Next Door Taker”: http://adventurecow.com/stories/754/next-door-taker

Alice’s Adventures as an Online Print Textual Artifact- By Danielle Imperatore

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Growing up, I constantly read books before going to bed. It ranged from fairytales, pop-up books, and chapter books. One that I always kept reading took place down the rabbit hole, Alice in Wonderland. I always was intrigued by the twists and turns with every page. I had the classic chapter book, the pop-up book and watched every movie version. When looking for a print textual artifact online, I wondered how my childhood favorite has developed in the world of technology.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland on literature.org is separated by chapters. When going through each chapter, black and white pictures occasionally accompany the text. Immediately I didn’t feel the excitement reading chapter by chapter online. There is no turning the page to see what happens next and everything is right in front of you. Depending on the version of actual text you buy, chapter books can include colored pages or images that can make the story exciting. I also have the pop-up book which involves the reader in the text and draws them into the story. Online, the text is very small and the very few pictures make it hard for the reader to realize where it fits into the story. Also do to the format of the text online, it is much longer then how it would seem in a book. Sentences seem to go on and on and instead of being able to turn a page, it is just small font spread out from margin to margin.

From owning both Lewis Carroll’s actual text to seeing it as a print textual artifact, I definitely prefer and recommend reading this story not online. A reader doesn’t truly get to experience the thrill and exciting of turning the page and going through Alice’s adventure with her. The rabbit hole leads to a series of characters and stories that can really only be understood fully not on a screen in black and white.

http://literature.org/authors/carroll-lewis/alices-adventures-in-wonderland/chapter-01.html

Our Relationship to Word (By: Kelsey Malles)

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While reading through “Materiality and Matter and Stuff: What Electronic Texts Are Made of” this week, I found myself walking away from class pondering a question that Professor Geddes brought up in class. This question being, “Do we still have the same relationship with word that we once had?” Lingering in my mind for the rest of the day, I contemplated back and forth whether or not as a society we do share the same relationship we once had. I’ve come to the conclusion that we do not. The internet, social media, etc. have changed the way we interact and live with word.

In today’s society, we no longer have exert an exceeding amount of effort to grasp the full understanding of something. Why would we have to when we have the whole world at the tips of our fingers? Think about when one doesn’t understand a word found within a text. What do they do? They automatically search it on their phone. Something so little as this is part of the reason our relationship with word has declined. Instead of taking a couple minutes to try and decode the word using something as simple as context clues, we automatically opt into taking the shortcut. People no longer believe in the abstraction of a text. If something is difficult at face value, their next step is to search for a summary and or analysis. Searching for things like this when reading something of difficulty ruins our relationship with word because it completely destroys creativity. Summaries and analysis’ found online offer one secular point of view from someone somewhere. Whose to say that their take on the text at hand is correct? Texts are more than fully capable of having more than one meaning. That’s what makes literature so unique; it’s ability to evoke different emotions and ideas from others all over. Searching and decoding as we do on the internet has a tendency to hinder our level of overall competency as well. Our ability to analyze, annotate, and just our overall reading levels dwindle when we choose take the easy way out. This lack of effort can often times translate into our everyday routine and play a large role in our overall character down the road.

Don’t get me wrong, I do view the world wide web as very useful tool for myself in certain situations. However, questions like the one that Professor Geddes brought up in class make me wonder where our society would be if we weren’t so evolved. Would we view the world the same? How would we interact? The questions and the possibilities are endless.

Materiality and Matter and Stuff: What Electronic Texts Are Made Of – Response (Robert Kellett)

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This artical writen by Matthew G. Kirschenbaum goes into the discussion on how electronic texts change and morph over time, coming to the idea that their semi-permanence is part of the discussion of the texts but not the key point of them.

One area where he highlights how digital texts can change is through the example of a program called “The Afternoon”, which came out in 1987 on Macs and latter in 1997 on PCs. The differences in the program itself are the icons of the Mac and PC versions being different too the file sizes and amount of text in the editions:


The afternoon icon (Mac); Copyright 1990 Eastgate Systems


The afternoon icon (PC); Copyright 1993 Eastgate Systems

“…the third edition includes a bitmapped graphic on its electronic frontispiece; the number of textual nodes has increased marginally, from 536 to 539; the number of links, however, has increased by nearly a hundred, from 854 to 951. The electronic size of the work has also grown, from 235 kilobytes in the first edition to 375 kilobytes in the third. There are also marked differences in the text’s presentation across platforms: one might note that the appearance of the afternoon desktop icon differs dramatically between the Mac and PC.”

This shows how different each of the programs are despite both originating from the same source; a clear case for an electronic text for evolving over time.

However, this comes back to the semi-permanence of electronic text; many fear that while the new medium is exciting, it presents an era where culture can be lost and loss of access to great works of text and media can be gone from the online cloud.

As someone who is heavily invested in video games, I can understand this as digital video games also face this issue (and people have to fight with the publishers and developers to preserve the hundreds of games that release over the decades). The issue of preservation of media IS important and electronic text also faces this problem.

But with every risk, comes reward, and become something greater: “Electronic text is the first text in which the elements of meaning, of structure, and of visual display are fundamentally unstable…. This restlessness is inherent in a technology that records information by collecting for fractions of a second evanescent electrons at tiny junctures of silicon and metal. All information, all data in the computer world is a kind of controlled movement, and so the natural inclination of computer writing is to change, to grow, and finally to disappear.”

This quote from the article explains why the risk is worth it; the loss of culture and media can be dangerous but it leads to the electronic text to grow over time from both the original author and the online community, leading to it evolving and becoming something stronger. Technology is always writing and changing, so it makes sense that our digital texts will do as well.

Overall, I appreciated the message this article was highlighting, making me understand how while losing something can bring out fear, it also benefits from being on an ever-changing online cloud.