In her book Electronic LIterature, N. Katherine Hayles asks questions about the future of writing and whether publications open to everyone will flood the market with a lot of “worthless drivel.”  To deal with the onslaught of such an overwhelming flood, it is imperative that standards of evaluation be developed that assist us in providing this new emerging field with the proper means of evaluation.

Many of us come to digital media with a background in print, according to Hayles, and we must build on that history in terms of what we expect of digital literature. We are dealing with a new era and I see evaluation criteria in its infancy, developing as the literature develops. This has no parallel in print literature as that technology developed much more slowly; electronic literature is changing at lightning speed.

It certainly seems pertinent that the developers of the original Storyspace be called upon to aid in the development of the evaluation of emerging digital literature. Their expertise and experience, along with others possessing substantial merit in the Electronic Literature field, need to be included in this ongoing process of establishing standards for the discipline.

If the future of writing is code, then will all of us in our production be forced or limited by what can be read by machine? It seems easy to envision handwriting becoming obsolete, and now it has evolved that machines will be able to read that code.

One other aside: Hayles (p.21) makes a reference to ShaXinWei and collaborators in T Garden, where “virtual technologies” record dancers’ movements.  There has always been difficulty preserving the work of great choreographers; this certainly has applications in the preservation of what was prior to now extremely difficult.  If the technology finally exists to allow us preservation of what was previously impossible, what new applications can these technologies provide? Certainly, we are not yet aware of what Electronic LIterature may make available to us.

Hayles mentions that the optimal response to new media is to include “traditional modes of understanding language, signification, and interactions with text.” Yes, we just have to learn to “think digital” (p.30) as our “old” methods of interpretation of print literature will help us to analyze what is available to us as Electronic LIterature per se.

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