#iamondays How to Write E-Lit

On Twitter, Devon posted this:

blogpost4a

Which is a link that leads us to this:blogpost4

The “Fun da mentals” of e-lit. A very old image to teach us how to do something new. When I first saw this picture, I was immediately reminded of Robinson and his book The Story of Writing, and for some reason, the fossils reminded me of the section about “rebuses”. And with good reason, I think. These fossils are rebuses, and they relate to e-lit because most often, e-lit uses pictorial images. It’s crazy to think that we are still using techniques from the middle ages. But then again, everything we know has developed from something in the past. For example, the computer, and it’s many components (such as the internet, hypertext, and cyber text).

Hypertext is e-lit. But first, let’s look at the actual structure of this page that Devon posted. In my own opinion, it’s quite simplistic and bare. In fact, it even seems to resemble a piece of paper, which still shows that we’re relating how we write today to how we once used to write. However, the website seems to do a nice job of incorporating grids, as we learned about from Lupton. If we just browse at the first page, there is a cornucopia of blue. Blue, of course, is hypertext.  As Nelson wrote, hypertext means “forms of writing which branch or perform on request,”; in other words, any of the blue links that we see daily.

But how do these links happen? How can you possible think of making all of the connections? There are ways, tutorials, and even webpages that will do it for you, so it’s really not a question of how. It’s actually, more of a why. But the why is in the purpose of this blog post: electronic literature.

Now then, first we must learn to understand electronic literature. It’s unlike traditional literature, it’s not bound by specific outcomes and there’s no specific beginning or ending. So how can we learn about it with the idea of traditional reading and writing lodged in our noggins? With practice and coherence, it can be done.

Fun da mentals actually offers some interactive ways to learn and become familiar with electronic literature, which is something that Nelson writes is a good thing. There is a “hornbook” which helps students begin to understand how to read electronic literature. The hornbook teaches about nodes and paths, but also provides exercises that allow the students to get involved. By clicking on the “reader” section we can learn how electronic literature let’s us explore it. This section is headlined by “This sentence is false” and then teaches how different nodes (clickable parts of a sentence) can develop different stories or ideas, much like in The Jews Daughter.

The most interesting part of Fun da Mentals is the “Coloring book” link. As the only way to learn how to color is by practicing, at some point you learn that you’re doing it right when you color inside the lines. Students learn about creating electronic literature by doing similar exercises to that of a coloring book. It involves navigation by clicking.

Speaking of navigation by clicking, the Fun da Mentals is almost an example of  e-literature. Yes, it’s obvious that the page is full of hypertext, but what makes e-lit is that the reader is in control. He or she can click around and expand the story on their own. For instance, once I begin reading the description of “the coloring book” I see that the word “anatomy” is a link, in which I click it. It takes me to the anatomy interactive portal, which is not directly related to what I was just focusing on. In this same description, there is a clickable word that says “electronic tool”. I am compelled to find out what an electronic tool is, so I click on it. I read about electronic tools. However, here is where there’s an issue: Each page that I’ve clicked on, they’ve offered other links, but none of them seem to take me back to the original story line. Therefore, we could argue that this is not electronic literature.

Electronic literature can be complex, especially when we’ve grown up and only been exposed to one type of literature (traditional). It takes time and practice to learn a new trade. As Fun da Mentals is attempted to do, it’s important to constantly practice and enrich yourself into what you’re trying to learn in order to better adapt.

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Categories: #IAMondays, Alphabetic Text Analysis, class activities, evidence, images, information architecture, mapping, pictorial images, semantic web, technology | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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3 thoughts on “#iamondays How to Write E-Lit

  1. I think it’s also interesting that the “coloring book” makes use of images as inspiration for writing. The first exercise tells you to write for ten minutes each about two of the pictures, then switch the pictures and see how it changes the meaning. This is intriguing in several ways. For one thing, with digital writing (particularly on blogs), pictures have become a very common part of the writing process. Yet most commonly, I think people choose a picture because it matches the text or subject that they’re writing about. This exercise challenges you to do it differently; you could end up with a piece of text written about, say, a crying girl, which then gets matched up with a picture of a dead end street. While the original text was written about the girl’s sadness and emotions, those qualities would then be applied to the image of the dead end street. This would likely evoke a wider range of the reader’s emotions and imagination.

    Another interesting aspect of this is how the concept incorporates images with text more directly, which is an important ideal in “Beautiful Evidence.” Most of what we read about in Tufte’s book described using images and text together in academic, explanatory, or research contexts. It’s an entirely different concept to use the same styles of beautiful evidence in a work of fiction, and the ideas in the Fun da mentals site seem to provide that opportunity.

  2. The website is an interesting exercise in elit, and offers experiential learning as regards to how elit can be understood; that is the website explains that elit is often, and often meant to be ergodic, and that it is up to the reader/user to put meaning into what they are reading. This is what is really interesting about elit, the potential for multiple readings of the text. I am struck with the metaphor of the fiction exercise book when examining the site, and I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. I feel like such a metaphor would be useful, especially towards steering a traditional education to a sense of comfort with the genre.

  3. Devon

    I was pretty excited when I found this link. I think it is interesting that you mentioned how it harkens back to how we still picture writing, with its paper-white design. One would think a website about E-Lit would be a bit more technologically advanced and flashy, but the hypertext helps make it so. What I really like about this website is that it immerses you into the world of hypertext–it’s like sink or swim. You’re in it, you have to figure it out, even if the website it about learning E-Lit. I think the exercises are definitely useful in helping others figure out how to function in this world of E-Lit. As we discussed in a previous post, gradual steps into understanding E-Lit, while still having echoes of the past, is a good way for people to learn about E-Lit without being overwhelmed.

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