Beyond Binaries: Continuity and Change in Medial and Modal Experimentation in Response to Print and Digital Technologies

While many critics have compared the current digital age in communications media with the print revolution that began in the 15th century, most discussions have focused primarily on the differences, as opposed to the similarities, between the two moments in history (Bolter, Landow, Hayles).  As an author and critic involved in exploring new approaches to digital fiction, I, too, am keenly aware of the distinct differences between the age of print and the current digital age.  Nevertheless, I have also been struck by many similar concerns in the specific types of experimentation taking place in response to and in light of new authoring and publishing technologies with those undertaken in the past in response to print technology.  Looking at the similarities and differences in how eighteenth century authors and contemporary interactive fiction and hypertext authors are responding to, using, and playing with remediation in their works, I consider specific instances of experimentation that arose in response to print technology in works of fiction published in the Eighteenth Century (Pope, Kidgell, Fielding (Sarah and Henry), Sterne, Richardson) with specific instances of medial and modal experimentation in response to digital technologies in contemporary hypertext and digital fiction projects (Moulthrop, M. Joyce, S. Jackson).  Questions to be addressed in comparing specific instances of experimentation across works include:  What similarities and differences exist?  What are the effects of this experimentation?  To what extent are these experiments the result of similar concerns?