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Community Repository of Writers on Writing

Synopsis + Format

Short presentation of Literature Review undertaken to compile practice/theory documents written by practitioners. This paper examines the intimate approaches of writers that write through/in digital media. What can process tell us about the literariness of Digital Literature? Ideally, the larger project will serve as a community repository/discussion of practitioners’ approaches to writing. It currently features a comparative look at statements by John Cayley, Stephanie Strickland, David Jhave Johnston, Christian Bök, and Jörg Piringer. However, I would like to include many more members of the community in the future.

More than ever, our cultural institutions are in process. A precarious state that necessitates an ouroboros of approach: we compose even as we are composed. Composing with technology only yields up further process as our predominant cultural artifact. How must we determine its literary value? We must learn to unmake. We must interrogate process through the lens of process. By examining how our cultural artifacts are composed, we may further reveal their stakes. The following presents a beginning survey and comparative analysis of how different writers have composed with/through/among technology to produce cultural artifacts. This study is by no means exhaustive; however, even among few volunteers, there already are interesting trends and divergences.

As writers we are cultural producers. Often with a split mind, we reflect on the result of our labor even as it is born. In this connected world of manifold process, it is difficult to divorce ourselves completely: especially, if our writing follows the trend of content that comments on its form. Don't we, as practitioners of writing that takes advantage of emerging technology, have a stake in suggesting what it can be? What it can do? Submissions and suggestions were graciously provided through the community and personal correspondence. Why isn't reflective commentary by writers on writing a more visible resource? Hopefully, even as a small overview, this paper will serve as a community repository of such commentary.

There were expected and unexpected findings. I expected to find evidence of "split-mind composition". The process of composing Digital Literature demands not only a consideration of language as content, or data, but also the formation/composition of that data to a concrete degree. I expected that the technologies selected as writing mediums would have their own meanings and literary potentials that could be read through the way they produce a text. Part of the body of the text produced is the current of what the technology brings to it. To a lesser extent, I expected varying degrees of hacktivist aesthetic: writers co-opting technical platforms to reflect culture back at itself. I did not expect the undertones of writer/machine struggle to be as prevalent. Findings show gradients of tension between writer and machine control of the system. In some ways, the writer is one embodiment of manifold process, synapse firing, always executing. They are one process set to "interrupt" the system. Yet, "writers write what writing wants. And in that writing the very form of the writer is rewritten" (Johnston).

Works Cited

“Authoring Software Tools and Applications.” Authoring Software. Judy Malloy, 1 Dec. 2012. Web. 4 Dec. 2012.
Burroughs, William S. “The Cut-Up Method of Brion Gysin.” Montfort and Wardrip-Fruin 89-91.
Bök, Christian. Interview by David Jhave Johnston. CAPTA Conversations with poets about technology. David Jhave Johnston, n.d. Web. 6 Dec. 2012.
Cayley, John. "Writing to Be Found and Writing Readers." Digital Humanities Quarterly 5.3 (2011): n. pag. Web. 13 Oct. 2012.
The empire Archives. The University of New South Wales, 5 Dec. 2012. Web. 8 Dec. 2012.
Goldsmith, Kenneth. Interview by Marcus Boon. “Unedited Transcript: Kenneth Goldsmith.” BOMBITE. Bomb Mag., Fall 2011. Web. 2 Dec. 2012.
– – –. Interview by David Mandl. “What Happens When Sense is Not Foregrounded as Being of Primary Importance.” Believer. The Believer Mag., Oct. 2011. Web. 2 Dec. 2012.
Hatcher, Ian.
Johnston, David Jhave. “Shifting Through Uncut Interviews.” Message to the author.
9 Dec. 2012. E-mail.
Lescure, Jean. “Brief History of the Oulipo.” Montfort and Wardrip-Fruin 172-176.
Montfort, Nick and Noah Wardrip-Fruin, eds. The New Media Reader. Boston: MIT Press, 2003. Print.
– – – and Stephanie Strickland. "cut to fit the toolspun course: Discussing Creative Code in Comments." Digital Humanities Quarterly (forthcoming).
Piringer, Jörg. "Nam Shub – A Text Creation and Performance Environment”. jörg piringer - [digital sound visual interactive poetry etc.] (n.d.): 1-11. PDF file. 1 Dec. 2012.