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No. 41
(2012) ISSN 1617-6901

Edited by Scott Rettberg and Patricia Tomaszek (Editorial)

Distributed Authorship and Creative Communities | Digital Literature in France | From OULIPO to Transitoire Observable | Electronic Literature Seen from a Distance. The Beginnings of a Field | Developing an Identity for the Field of Electronic Literature | Shyness, Cushions, and Food | A Short History of Electronic Literature and Communities in the Nordic Countries | Interactive Fiction Communities. From Preservation through Promotion and Beyond | The Flash Community. Implications for Post-Conceptualism | Sc4nda1 in New Media



Simon Biggs and Penny Travlou: Distributed Authorship and Creative Communities

This essay is an investigation into creativity as a driving force for emergent communities and discusses the use of various ethnographic methodologies to gather information on the interpretation and performativity of 'creativity' by electronic literature practitioners within a transnational and multicultural context. As the ELMCIP partners responsible for the ethnographic study of networked creative communities, Biggs and Travlou present their research in progress. It builds on James Leach's Creative Land and proposes to adapt multi-sited global ethnography (Marcus; Burawoy, Hendry) and cyber-ethnography (Ward; Hine; Carter) to the purpose of the ethnographic study of three selected networked creative communities: Furtherfield, Art is Open Source, and Make-Shift.

Serge Bouchardon: Digital Literature in France

Serge Bouchardon's paper concludes with the observation that the field of digital literature "is based on each country's own conception of literariness, of the digital medium, as well as on the relation between the two" and completes his article with a question to be considered in future research on communities, asking if digital literature is a coherent international field or a mere collection of cultural specificities. Giving an account of how digital literature in France evolved theoretically and historically through the creation of creative works and their traditional filiations, within a study of two socio-technical devices, he also analyzes how a particular mailing list, "a reflexive device" of a community possibly contributes to the construction of the field. His contribution comes along with a rich collection of links to various French actors in the field.

Philippe Bootz: From OULIPO to Transitoire Observable

As an early programmer of digital poetry, theorist, active participant in various literary French movements, and co-founder of journals (alire) and groups (Transistoire Observable), Philippe Bootz outlines the gradual development of a coherent French aesthetic of digital poetry. His article circles around the paradigm of text generation and its different evolving movements which he describes and relates to each other in detail by giving account to the various actors, conditions, and conceptualizations behind the scenes of the communities he analyzes.

Jill Walker Rettberg: Electronic Literature Seen from a Distance. The Beginnings of a Field

To locate possible beginnings and landmarks of the early history of electronic literature, Jill Walker Rettberg applies a wide-angle lens to her research focus, using "distant reading" methods along with interviews, database driven research and information visualization. In search of early origins of electronic literature and hypertext in the US, she analyses the emergence of terminologies, publishing patterns and their effects on references in e-lit scholarship. Jill Walker Rettberg also examines e-lit antecedents and creative works that might serve as the earliest roots of the field.

Scott Rettberg: Developing an Identity for the Field of Electronic Literature: Reflections on the Electronic Literature Organization Archives

The cofounder and first Executive Director of the Electronic Literature Organization (ELO) presents a narrative of the organization's history and provides insights into how this institutionally structured community was planned and managed to facilitate the development and growth of the field. Archival materials such as early project descriptions, chat transcripts, hand-written notes, and ephemera inform the background of the earliest conceptual statements and various decisions about composition, mission, and programs of the Electronic Literature Organization from 1999 onwards. What is presented in short is a history of an institutionalized community vital to the creative and academic practice of electronic literature.

Rob Wittig: Shyness, Cushions, and Food: Case Studies in American Creative Communities

Wittig initiates a conversation about the roles of social and formal infrastructures that impact creative collaboration, in particular the physical and social environments that might facilitate creative collaboration. He takes us to the tables at which literary communities formed and serves us with hand-drawn illustrations and insights that ruled various activities Wittig over the years was involved in, an "imperial happy hour" included. This is an adaptation and remix of a talk given at the Electronic Literature Communities Seminar in Bergen, Norway on September 21, 2010.

Hans Kristian Rustad: A Short History of Electronic Literature and Communities in the Nordic Countries

This article offers a panoply of perspectives to demonstrate the various scholarly and creative activities that contribute to (the existence of) a Nordic community in the field of electronic literature. Rustad not only presents early scholarly papers and publications, but also refers to now-inaccessible early as well as recent works of electronic literature, some of which come along with short close readings that characterize the traditions from which these works evolved. Additionally, one learns about some of the web-based publication venues and universities at which electronic literature is currently being researched and taught in Northern Europe.

Nick Montfort and Emily Short: Interactive Fiction Communities: From Preservation through Promotion and Beyond

How did interactive fiction (IF), the text adventure game genre of e-lit that has existed for more than thirty years, evolve from the first commercial computer games into a self-sustaining creative community? And how and what changed the definition of the IF community over the years? Montfort and Short analyze the field, offer ways to discern the communities' self-understanding, and point to forums, chat systems, publications, competitions, directories, archives, development systems, and other sorts of entities and institutions that contributed to the traditions of IF. Through this exemplary presentation, the authors consider how the existing community activity could help to connect IF more effectively with poets, fiction writers, artists, and others who work in creative computing, and thereby "hold some lessons for other electronic literature communities."

Donna Leishman: The Flash Community: Implications for Post-Conceptualism

Considering Macromedia/Adobe's Flash as something more than just a piece of production software, Donna Leishman proves that it fostered an international community with "indigenous ideologies, tension points, and aesthetics" that share commonalities with how the e-lit community evolved throughout the years. While both communities investigated programming, the networked connectivity of the Internet was instrumental in fostering creativity, but Leishman also identifies chronistic differences which she outlines along the lines of her historical take in reading the Flash-community in relation to the community of electronic literature. All in all, a "digital blur" (Rodgers) that marks intersections in both communities seem inevitable and is most interesting when it comes to questions of narrative and generative representation. Leishman thus concludes that "the future looks interesting for digitally mediated networked narrative."

Stuart Moulthrop: Sc4nda1 in New Media

Moulthrop unveils a scandal he observes in the community of electronic literature. In his "post-serious" scholarly "arcade essay", he raises and discusses the pertaining questions virulent in the community itself, all of which center around the cultural status of electronic literature in relation to other practices. Once Moulthrop notices that, "as a whole, electronic writing raises more questions than it answers." As we pong our way through the discourse of these historical scandals in new media, we might find ourselves encountering a new kind of criticism, "an argument that is as much in new media—or the domain of the Universal Turing Machine—as it may be from anywhere else."

Archive: 2010: 40 2009: 39 | 2008: 38 | 2007: 37 | 2006: 36 | 2005: 35, 34 | 2004: 33, 32, 31 | 2003: 30, 29, 28, 27 | 2002: 26, 25, 24, 23, 22, 21 | 2001: 20, 19, 18, 17, 16, 15 | 2000: 14, 13, 12, 11, 10, 9, 8 | 1999: 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1

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