The Final Reading Response Blog

•May 3, 2010 • 1 Comment

I don’t like the fact that both articles refer to hypertexts as electronic literature. As clearly proven in this class, a hypertext does not simply need to be electronic in order to accomplish the idea of the work. Now, granted, it may help the piece achieve its goal, it is no necessary for it to be on the web. There are books we have read in this class that seem to be interactive fiction and/or hypertexts due to the fact that many of them have the characteristic that I believe to be hypertext. In my head hypertext is something that has multiple storyline paths that can change with reaction to what the reader does. That’s the definition in the class that I have compiled in my own head, and is by no means everyone’s definition. Kirschenbaum talks about how everyone’s definition of hypertext is different but that most of them include the idea of a hyperlink. Well, hyperlinks in books are there too. It seems like whenever someone hears hyper- something they automatically assume Internet or computer. In my eyes, and Kirschenbaum’s too I believe that a hypertext is just something that takes you somewhere else. That definition totally defeats the idea that most of these works are on the web. The choose your own adventure books can easily be considered hypertexts due to the 20+ endings. What you do in those books decides where you go and ultimately to me that is what hypertext is all about. That being said, books like Italo Calvino’s On a Winter’s Night, A Traveler and Danielewski’s House of Leaves can be considered because they have multiple storylines. All of that being said, I think there’s a different category in hypertext for stuff that’s only web-based; interactive fiction.
I know that Hayles’ went into it a little bit but interactive is something that is not easy to define. It seems like many things in this class is all about what the authors think about the word. Everything has its own meaning to someone else you know? Interactive is all what somebody makes it to be. I might say the interactive is simply the click of a mouse or scrolling over a word, someone else might say it’s engaging the text and thinking about decisions etc.
Kirschenbaum also talks about materiality. This argument goes back to what I said about hypertexts. Why can he not consider tangible books hypertext? He talks about how hypertexts lack materiality and such because you cannot touch them. Well how come books like what we’ve read in class can’t be considered hypertext. Are they not almost the same thing as the web-based stuff? Can you not interact with tangible texts? I believe you can. Therefore, I do not like much of what Kirschenbaum says about all these topics. Then again, many things these days are what you make it and not what someone else says. These definitions from Hayles and Kirschenbaum are good for like a base, but they aren’t very wide definitions and I think they need to include more things.


Reading Response Blog #13

•April 26, 2010 • 2 Comments

Ah, AGRIPPA, book of the dead. I can see why, the text moved so slow I nearly fell asleep trying to read it. I’m not really sure why it moves so slow, it actually really gets on my nerves. It’s like, is this thing really trying to tick me off? Because it’s working. I don’t know if it’s the program, the person controlling the program or what it is but it just bothers the heck outta me knowing that I just wanna scroll through the text so much faster. I don’t know what the writer of this program file is trying to create but the fact that you have a ridiculous amount of patience to read this just isn’t for me. I don’t have a lot of patience for reading things. I just like to do things and get them done and not have to wait what seemed like an endless amount of time to read something. I was just praying the whole text would magically start to move faster up the screen, but woah is me, it didn’t. I wish there was more variety in the speed. Like maybe start it slow, and move it faster in the exciting parts of the story, that would’ve made things more advanced with the plot as well. I would’ve just liked to see more than just an endless text. Also I kind of got distracted with some other things while reading this piece and had my sound on and nearly fell off my chair when all of a sudden a random sound exploded from my speakers. At first I wasn’t sure what it was and I was kinda freaking out. Otherwise, I’m going to be honest here, I didn’t have the patience to read this whole thing. I went in knowing that it was going to be a 20 minute video but I had no idea the text was going to literally crawl slowly up the screen making me want more out of it. I really wish that this was a program that we could all access and manipulate instead of helpless feel trapped into reading it. I don’t feel like it’s interactive in a sense because I don’t really think you can interact with it in any way. I think the only thing you could do is read the stanzas out of order, and if you can do that and call that interactive you could do that with almost anything. I’m not really sure what to think about this piece, I guess I’ll get everyone else’s opinions in class.

Reading Response Blog #12

•April 19, 2010 • 2 Comments

I’m going to admit here, that I did not understand what was going on throughout the movie to the fullest. Since I did not understand it completely, I consulted the Wikipedia. I found it quite ironic that the page said, “anybody who claims [to] fully understand what’s going on in Primer after seeing it just once is either a savant or a liar.” I completely agree with this statement because there were a lot of times where I really didn’t understand what was happening. Also, I have a lot of problems, though it was a low budget film, with the audio quality of this film. Much of the background noise really distracted me and I couldn’t really hear a lot of the words, especially in the fountain scene. There was so much background noise in that scene it made it hard for me to concentrate.

Despite all of my dislikes, there were a few things that I did like about the film. I liked the fact that they kept it somewhat simple. They took a realistic approach to this movie; for example the whole process takes place in this guys garage. It makes it look like it just happened on accident and that it could miraculously happen in anyone’s garage. I also liked that it seemed like once they discovered what this machine did, they used it to cheat the stock market. I believe that many people in America would definitely try to cheat the system as well. The idea to do so is a very casual idea that many people would think of so I like that fact that that provides the whole “homey” idea in the film.

The way this film plays with time kind of goes with this class in the way that there are multiple tracks of this story. There are multiple copies of the same person in the movie. When they go into the machine it produces a copy of themselves that I believe goes back into the day they were originally already in. Since they’re making copies of themselves, and as I later found out, 2 copies of themselves, it creates multiple timelines shown on all the time charts posted on those websites. This makes all the more reason for this movie to be shown in our class. This film takes time and rewinds it with a copy of a person. It makes things pretty confusing when they do do this however. I’d say this theme is sort of like the texts in this class. The texts in this class present different storylines while still maintaining the main storyline. This movie, in a way, presents different timelines much like that of hypertexts we have read in class. Though we haven’t explored time travel in class yet, this is similar. It’s kind of like House of Leaves in the fact that there is a main storyline, but also a co-existing storyline to go with it. Though in this film, we end up finding out there are actually multiple storylines for the main character in this movie. I got really confused really fast in this movie, so I am still really not sure how I feel about it.

Reading Response Blog #11

•April 12, 2010 • 5 Comments

I thought that the Violet interactive fiction was a fun little venture to go out on. I liked that you could type in words and that it would respond to you. However, I don’t like that it doesn’t respond to a lot of what you say. You can make valid statements and it says it doesn’t know what you are saying basically. That being said I kind of find it fun to play around on. I like that it asks you questions on what to do.
I do not like that you can get stuck in it though. If you don’t provide a good enough word or action it doesn’t continue. I got stuck somewhere along the line where I couldn’t figure out what it wanted me to say. I think that there should be some form of prompt along the way if you are stuck with things that you can type in. I want there to be some sort of clickable button that lets you go on with the next portion of the story without having to know the word it wants.
Though it is called interactive fiction there should be some boundaries that are crossed in interest of the reader. I feel that it is limited and that bothers me as a whole. Maybe if the horizons were broadened a little more I would feel more interested in the topic. Upon further attempt of the story I was, however, able to ‘unlock’ the story more just by randomly guessing words that could fit the situation. It’s fun to play around on and the story develops a little as you continue. There’s an interesting little plot to deal with.
I just find it more and more frustrating to try and guess words and they don’t fit. I don’t like the fact that when it asks for example, I said listen. It said what do you want to listen to and I respond Julia and it doesn’t understand that statement. Many of the questions it asks don’t accept a wide variety of answers. I liked the interactivity on the lexias more than on this particular piece because usually there was always any obvious place to go and automatically to receive a response to it; whereas with this you never know if you’re going to get one or not. With Ryan’s definition she says that there are certain levels of interactivity and I think this sits sort near the top of the scale. It fits into Ryan’s #8 on the scale which according to her is the most interactive of the interactive fictions; though I don’t really agree with her statement. I wish there was more explorative nature in Violet. It seems like there’s a set plot that you are made to follow and if you don’t follow it, it doesn’t function. I think that if the plot were widened a little more with accepting more responses it would be more fun and much more appealing to me. I like things to be complicated and challenging to solve but not to the point for you have to have an exact word to work off of.

Reading Response Blog #10

•April 4, 2010 • Leave a Comment

These electronic literature selections are some of the coolest things I’ve seen in a long time.  The texts morph in according to where you move you curser.  I think this makes literature evolve to a whole new level.  You could literally have whole novels spawn from one word that the reader rolls over.  That fact that somebody developed this is pretty awesome.  It makes texts extremely versatile in the aspect that you could have several words be options for the reader.  You can have more and more paths for the reader to experience and it could even make the reader make errors.  The reader could just randomly scroll over the page instead of making decisions to move on to the next area in the text.  The decision-making could be accidental, thus leaving the reader with less stress about making decisions.  It makes things just a little bit more fun to play around with as well.  The story adding text and taking away text could make one story into something completely different.  The versatility is endless with imaging like this.

The fact that the authors of these hypertexts can make words morph into other words could also present an extremely interesting concept as well.  You could have one string on the screen (like the thing in the ELO page titled strings) and have it morph into different words and tell a story simply by having the reader move their mouse a certain way.  I think that might be the most fascinating aspect of this whole ordeal.  All these electronic literature tales have something in common.  They’re making the choice involve less thinking.  It is simply just scroll over this part and more things will happen.  It is widening the range of compatibility with the reader.  The horizon seems endless on some of these stories to where they can evolve.  If they can make one story out of a string, that would be something else.  I just love how in The Jews Daughter that if you simply scroll over something more texts takes place.  Sometimes it just simply adds on and other times it replaces text.

I think these concepts are extremely useful for both the readers and the writers of these texts.  As a writer you can make the whole text be hyperlinks to the next section of the story, down to every last word.  By doing this, you can, as a reader, make more decisions faster by simply moving a mouse.  It advances the decisions making process into another form instead of clicking places all you have to do is move the curser.  All these technology advancements are making hard text more and more useless though, however.  The text being flexible makes older hard text obsolete and boring because the only hard text like electronic literature is the CYOA books.  Quite obviously those weren’t a hit in stores.  It’s so hard to trace this kind of technology into hard text.  If this electronic literature becomes popular and starts to take over I could see the old hard text become obsolete.

Reading Response Blog #9

•March 29, 2010 • 2 Comments

The book, House of Leaves, is an entertaining book to read as well as a book that has some good content. The writing style in this book is something that nobody else uses in writing and it is fun to read that way as well (though not in public). He experiments with probably just about every way to write a page layout as he can. There are words upside down, backwards, different colors, broken text, pointless text, sideways text, just about everything there is he possibly could. Though it complicates thing and it may bother some readers, I found it entertaining to see what he would do next in his text. It is like a little game that he has put into his book to challenge the reader. Sometimes there is text out of order as well. There are footnotes that come before endnotes and some footnotes come before the actual text it is referring to. This is what qualifies this story as a hypertext I think. They fact that you can read what you want expands the text because there are several ways to read things in the novel. You can choose to read the footnotes that allude elsewhere, you can choose to read just the endnotes, you could read just the main text, or you could read it in combinations of all those.
I would say the most interesting text in this started on 438 when it went sideways and the pages side by side mirroring each other. My personal favorite text in the book is when he has the broken text that starts on page 442. It presents an interesting system for the reader to experience. I like how they generally form different shapes which sometimes help tell the story (like the gunshot earlier in the story). It then proceeds to go diagonally, upside down in different places, music notes, random lines, and then finally back to normal text. I kind of wish more authors did this with their novels because it makes things more entertaining to read, though it makes you look awkward in public. It expands the ideas that authors can choose to write with. Maybe authors in the future can write one story right side up and another story upside down or sideways etc. It expands hypertext as a whole because now you can have it in a hard text form instead of just computer format. It obviously cannot have the complexity that computer hypertext has but it can become similar to that type of format. I hope to see more texts like this in the future because this was a good read as well as a fun, entertaining read.

Reading Response Blog #8

•March 15, 2010 • 5 Comments

In the beginning of the book it starts off with the phrase ‘this is not for you.’ This seems to continue the theme with a lot of these kinds of texts. They tell you not to continue reading or like in the CYOA books it tells you something of similar nature. I initially thought that this story was going to continue like much of the rest of the interactive fiction stories we have read in this class. When the introduction furthered I found out about the main character and his tendencies and assumed that might be the reason why the book ‘is not for me’. I have nothing to do with these aspects of life and maybe that is why it is not for me. This book definitely looks as though there are a numerous amount of ways to read it. There are many pages that are not assigned inside the initial storyline so I think along the way there will be a vast array of options. This seems like a story of mass paranoia where the main character is thinking all kinds of things to get the reader thinking as well. The story seems to have a lot to do with the Navidson Record, which is talked about quite frequently. The notes on the bottom of the pages seem to continually change back and fourth. There seems to be two different types of text, which appear differently in the notes. The change is from a typical font to like a lucida sans type font. It starts as just a small part of the notes, then a little more, then you do not know if the notes are the pages or if the other fonts are not the notes. It is definitely an interesting aspect he chose to play around with. The notes then become part of the story; which is something I can say I have never seen before. It’s pretty interesting how he places a note number right inside the text and then has a piece of the story for you at the bottom of the page, which may actually become several pages in the future. This book may actually hold my attention with the complexity of the way he presents his text; I find it very interesting. I don’t know how everyone else feels about this but I think it’s an aspect rarely sought after in literature. It seems, however, that one could easily get lost in the text as it is a little confusing and hard to read at times. It tends to interject in places to make it confusing and hard to remember where you left off. You tend to get distracted in the story in little bits and pieces. Sometimes when I read I get distracted anyways so this is a good way to keep my focus and change directions.