eNarrative 6

eNarrative 6: Creative Hypertext Nonfiction doesn't begin for another hour and a half, but people are already blogging about it. This will be my entry for the event, which I'll update as I digest what everyone said.

David Kolb

David Kolb

Stuart Moulthrop

Diane Greco

Eastgate Bio of Diane Greco

Diane Greco's Home page

George Landow

Eastgate's bio sums up what I would put here: George Landow is Professor of English and Art History at Brown University. A leading scholar on Ruskin and Victorian literature and culture, Professor Landow is also internationally recognized as a theorist of hypertext application and design. He has written several books on hypertext critical theory, wrote the important early hypertext The Victorian Web, and has been a key player in the history of hypertext at Brown University. He has his own domain and his CV is online.

Mark Bernstein

I've been delaying writing Mark Bernstein's bio for this site because he's one of the few people I've met, because he's likely to see this fairly quickly after I post it, and because I can't seem to spend more than fifteen minutes reading without running into his name in some acknowledgements or citations. He's founder and Chief Scientist of Eastgate Systems; has written software for hypertext, for Macintoshes, for other things; has helped organize several ACM hypertext conferences and all of the eNarrative conferences; has written innumerable (well, to me) articles and papers on hypertext (some linked down the left side of his blog); and he's a nice guy. I can't make a comprehensive list of his primary interests in hypertext as I can with several other bios I'm working on, but he has written a good bit about the themes of structure, making hypertexts interesting with human touches and good storytelling, elegant linking, and accessibility.

Bill Bly

Bill Bly wrote one of my favorite hypertexts so far. And he seems to present hypertexts that work in a way that makes sense to me... as ways to connect fragments; tools for creating the gossamer spiderweb strands that bind and separate our more substantial thoughts; as masses of information for which the discovery of the structures is as integral to learning as is the information itself. There must be a better way to articulate that. I'm sure I'll find it as I read on.

I just discovered his blog within his personal site, and that's part of what has me writing this entry. I realize now that the people section of t.org is growing with a bias toward blogs. The blogosphere is fertilizing its growth, and it is responding ... blogotropically?

Bill has a page about his work with hypertext. He approaches it from a refreshing angle. Rather than looking into hypertext systems as tools for new work, he is approaching them as the lesser of evils: as attempts at software which are with regard to the way we think perhaps less flawed than the word processor, spreadsheet, or operating system. That's another take on one of the things that keeps me interested in the field-- I think hypertexts more accurately represent the ways we think and communicate.

Sarah Smith

Nathan Matias

Ellie Villanos (?)

Tom Kinsella

Ken Tompkins

Remix culture

Weblogg-ed News posted about a recent Lawrence Lessig essay about the "Read-Write Web" in the Financial Times. The article caught my eye because it disusses Anime Music Videos, and I like AMVs. But I stayed, and read the article to friends, because the article is really good. It uses AMVs as a case study for looking at trends in copyright on the web. As technology increasingly enables people to not only consume media but to remix, retell, and share it, the potential is vast --as is the loss we face if we successfully prevent such creativity.

Lessig also makes a few points I haven't seen others making so directly, including the fact that we do this anyway. We retell stories to each other, we recreate movies to our friends as we complain or rave about them, and we fuse media constantly in our daily life in an effort to refine (or communicate) the effect that consumed art has upon us. Have you ever put on somemusic at a party with your friends because it created the mood you wanted? Have you put stickers on a notebook because they made you laugh, smile, or made some comment about what you were sticking them on? These are retellings, and the only real difference between them and an AMV is that technology has allowed the AMV to be more polished and more widely available.

Lessig ends the article with a great question to Wind Up Records, which recently forced an AMV community to remove all videos with Wind Up Records music: Now that you’ve succeeded in stopping thousands of kids from spending hundreds of thousands of hours to make fantastically creative content that promotes your work for free, do you really expect to sell more records next year?

I can cite personal example after example where his point applies to me. I found the Faithless song Mass Destruction in an AMV and almost immediately went to the iTunes Music Store to get it. I've bought several albums because friends put them on mixes and I wanted the rest of the album.

This is in my hypertext blog because I think the problem is a hypertextual one... how do you give credit (in any sense) for transclusion? What sorts of currency navigate the links formed by transclusion, and how do we formalize that exchange? For years it has been a clear sign that someone Doesn't Get It about the web if they demand that you get permission to link to their site... and yet that's what cracking down on AMVs is. Heck, in a larger sense, by linking to those posts I am adding them to my own narrative in a (very diluted) form of transclusion, just as I was remixing Lessig's article as I read bits of it to my friends. I don't think these acts --discussing, linking, remixing-- differ in form but rather in scope... and I don't think the difference in scope changes the message.

Physical Pleasures

A few weeks ago my cute travel mouse broke enough that I stopped using it. Then the left (primary) button on my 2-year-old Wacom tablet mouse went on the fritz. Left mouseless as a FileMaker developer and Tinderbox addict on the Macintosh, I moved quickly to find a replacement, and decided to give the Wacom pen another go. I'd tried it for a day or two back when I got the tablet and couldn't get the hang of it. I use two monitors most of the time and the tablet couldn't map the proportions, the pen-side buttons were ungainly, etc.

But they've really improved the drivers, and this time I was forced to use it long enough to get used to it. And I won't go back soon because I'm really enjoying the physical sensation of using a pen for my text-work. It's thrilling to drag windows around with the pen like I'm drawing, and it feels so right to make a highlighter motion over text, then drag a link-arrow (in Tinderbox) from the text to another note to make a link. I made the main button on the pen into ctrl-click and it feels like I am really grabbing links and icons and pulling the contextual menu out of them.

All this time I've preferred to do initial hypertext sketching on paper because of the freedom to whip links to and fro with abandon, to turn notes on their sides or squeeze some more text in. There are still advantages to doing that, but I'm surprised at how much of my preference seems to have been the thoughtlessly intuitive motion and the physical pleasure of drawing with a pen on paper. Using the tablet in Tinderbox and FileMaker has brought some of that pleasure back into the digital side of that work.