Today my research interests include the integration and application of software applications and servlets for the purposes of literature, but just a couple of years ago I was one of the people Hayles describes as possessing the characteristics of “deep attention.” My research was mainly concerned with the 18th century English novel particularly the works of Henry Fielding which influenced the long drawn out Victorian novel that Brown thought to be a waste of reading time. It was not until I started to spend more time studying object-oriented programming theory that I started to think how the process of writing fiction is very similar to the process of writing code (so similar in my mind that I began toying with the idea of reading texts through OOP).

Keeping my background and my recent interests in mind I was surprised at my initial reaction to Hayles’s Electronic Literature. The first time I read Hayles’ Electronic Literature the only reaction I had to the text is that electronic literature is an insult to the literature. I found the literature on the sample CD to be examples not of literature but examples of people learning to use software and sharing what they learned. It was not until I read the text a second time that chapter 3 started to make more sense. Hayles states that computer code is a “double-edged sword. On the one hand, code is essential for the computer-mediated communication of contemporary narratives; on the other, code is an infectious agent transforming, mutating, and perhaps even fatally distorting narrative so that it can no longer be read and recognized as such” (137). My first impression of this statement was that code was mutilating literature and when software was used to create texts in the way that “Cruising” (a poem that uses sound, images and text to simulate the experience of “cruising around in a car) does the end product is no longer “literature.” Since my ideas of “literature” where bound to the conventions of the printed text there was no way to include a piece such as “Cruising.” At first I was much more accepting of the Storyspace texts because they more closely followed the conventions of print. Although they were somewhat interactive with their hyperlinks they were not a threat print because they were print, electronic print but print all the same (no movement, barely integration of images and for the most part no sound). I was neglecting the idea that “technologies are embodied because they have their own material specificities as central to understanding how they work as human physiology, psychology, and cognition are to understanding how (human) bodies work” (112). My initial reaction to the literature on our companion CD being a collection of “people sharing what they learned to do with software” became a narrative itself. While I still do not possess the “hyper attention” to appreciate a large amount of the work on that CD, I do think that it is worth preserving and archiving such works because as both Hayles and Risen state in their pieces the work is part of our cultural history.

To speak to Anne’s post I want to say that I believe the way to determine which e-lit texts are “worthless drivel” and which are worth preserving is to see how they spoke to the software that was used to create them. Code Movie 1 for instance is deceptively simple and can be seen as a “neat” way to use flash. But if we really start to think about what it is doing in flash it starts to become a little more complex. Not only is Code Movie 1 displaying “the code” that is normally hidden on the screen (breaking the rule of encapsulation in OOP) as its narrative it is showing the functions by manipulating the hex code through scene effects and timeline effects.

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