Shy Boy, Proud Author


“”Literature” is a complex web of activities that includes much more than conventional images of writing and reading” (Hayles). This progressive idea of the term thus includes electronic literature like “Shy Boy” by Thomas Swiss. “Unlike a print book, electronic text literally cannot be accessed without running the code” (Halyes). In Swiss’ piece there is moving text and fading colors with an underlying musical tone that evokes emotions that wouldn’t otherwise be summoned if the poem had been written on a sheet of paper. Electronic literature is all about breaking the boundaries of traditional forms of communication and adding new levels of immediacy. “Shy Boy” progresses with or without the reader, causing a feeling of excitement as the code runs its course, presenting an emotional story that captures the reader’s attention and demand continuous thought. “Digital born” pieces of literature are defined by their inability to be reproduced in physical form. Electronic literature must be created digitally and must remain digital. Using a technological medium such as the computer screen “urges the user to not only look at the interface, but to actively participate in the communication…” (Looy and Baetens 10). “Shy Boy” does just that. Although it is a very short piece, it captures a universal human experience and incorporates neutral colors, muted music and fading text in order to present an story that could not otherwise be told if this literature was printed into a book or article. Electronic literature is all about experiences what cannot be had in the physical realm.

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