14.0382 reviews of hyperfiction? labour-saving devices?

From: by way of Willard McCarty (willard@lists.village.Virginia.EDU)
Date: 10/19/00

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                   Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 14, No. 382.
           Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
       [1]   From:    Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty@kcl.ac.uk>         (44)
             Subject: reviews of hyper-fiction?
       [2]   From:    Michele Gorman <mgorman@datamonitor.com>             (6)
             Subject: Re: 13.0332 labour-saving devices
             Date: Thu, 19 Oct 2000 08:06:21 +0100
             From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty@kcl.ac.uk>
             Subject: reviews of hyper-fiction?
    The commercial announcement of M. D. Coverley's hypertextual novel Califa
    elsewhere on Humanist prompts me to ask if anyone knows of critical reviews
    of the genre? It is not difficult to find what seem to this reader to be
    inflated claims for it and its instantiations, but these are of course to
    be expected. I for one would welcome such a review in the Times Literary
    Supplement, the London or New York Review of Books or similar place. Have
    there been any?
    What I mean by "critical review" would go well beyond the
    can't-take-it-to-the-beach-or-into-the-bath complaint, though the reviewer
    might recognise the degree to which current technology is poorly suited for
    reading. Having done that I suppose it would assume that we had the marvels
    we are promised, that the equipment was no longer such a problem, then
    attempt to deal with hyperlinked fiction per se, as we can see it through
    our glass darkly. It would, perhaps, get sufficiently into the deficiencies
    in linking as most of us currently know it via the unidirectional,
    monotypical HREF of the Web, to examine current prototypes for richer
    linking mechanisms and imagine how authors of fiction might use them. (The
    literature is extensive and fascinating.) It would, I suppose, be quite
    clear-headed about what one gains and loses from writing in smallish chunks
    that the reader is encouraged to access in more than one sequence. Its
    analysis of gains and losses, if that's not too crude, would need to be
    based on a good knowledge of the ways in which novelists (at least since
    the 18th century) have played with and against the so-called linear
    structure of narrative, indeed how epic poets since Homer have done the
    same, e.g. by plunging in medias res.
    I am reminded of a fine article I read recently, D.R. Raymond and
    F.W.Tompa's "Hypertext and the Oxford English Dictionary", in
    Communications of the ACM, 31.7 (July 1988): 871-79, for which see
    <http://db.uwaterloo.ca/~fwtompa/publications.html>. Raymond and Tompa note
    for the comparatively simple and explicitly expressed structure of the OED
    that textual structures must be inferred from careful study of the text.
    There is always the danger, they note, that implicit, unrecognised
    structure will be lost when converting to hypertextual form. Of course when
    conceiving a novel in that form, rather than converting a legacy document
    to it, the question is different; there is literally nothing to be lost.
    But is the genius of the author so hampered by the relatively
    unsophisticated mechanisms at his or her disposal that the result is hardly
    worth the effort?
    Dr Willard McCarty / Centre for Computing in the Humanities /
    King's College London / Strand / London WC2R 2LS / U.K. /
    +44 (0)20 7848-2784 / ilex.cc.kcl.ac.uk/wlm/
             Date: Thu, 19 Oct 2000 08:07:00 +0100
             From: Michele Gorman <mgorman@datamonitor.com>
             Subject: Re: 13.0332 labour-saving devices
    Good afternoon,
    We are in the process of writing a paper on the theory that labour-saving
    devices do not actually save us time (as applied to the use of the
    Internet). Can you suggest a few references (online) that may help me to
    understand this theory and its implications?
    Kind regards,

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