Thursday, 10/15, 2020
10 a.m.-11:30 a.m. PDT
Live on YouTube:

Join us for a live YouTube event: A playthrough of Mark Bernstein and Erin Sweeney’s historical hypertext, The Election of 1912 (1988). For the playthrough we’ll be using the 3.5-inch floppy disk on which the work was originally published and a Macintosh SE running System Software 6.0.7. Performing the work are the two authors. Following their performance there will be a conversation and Q&A that includes the authors, hypertext scholar and ELL Research Affiliate, Mariusz Pisarski, and Dene Grigar. Safety precautions due to COVID-19 means we will be using a combination of Zoom, YouTube, and OBS software to allow Bernstein from Massachusetts and Sweeny from New Mexico to remotely guide Grigar in Vancouver, WA to navigate the work from her lab in Vancouver, WA. As a participant in the event, you will be able to post questions in the YouTube Chat to the authors about their work that they will then answer in the Q&A.


Media Channels

Twitter: #ELitLab
During the event we will be posting photos and commentary on Facebook and Twitter.

About the Authors

Mark Bernstein is founder and Chief Scientist of Eastgate Systems, Inc. He came to hypertext after a brief career in chemical research. After phasing into computer science, he created HyperGate, a hypertext authoring system for the Macintosh that predated Apple’s HyperCard, Fontina, Macintosh font management software, and Link Apprentice, a research tool received with considerable interest by the hypertext community. He is also the primary developer of Storyspace for Windows and of the Eastgate Web Squirrel and Tinderbox. After licensing Storyspace in 1990 from Michael Joyce, Jay David Bolter, and John B. Smith, he developed one of the first commercial publishing houses of interactive media, and the only one to specialize in electronic literature. He has published, to date, 48 titles of hypertext fiction, poetry, and essays. An avid student of history, Bernstein co-authored with Erin Sweeney, the early non-fiction hypertext, The Election of 1912 (1988). 

Born in Bucks County, PA, Erin Sweeney graduated from Williams College in 1982 as an English and Philosophy major and was the first person in her family to go to college. She worked at Baker Library at Dartmouth College, first as a reserve circulation assistant and then as head of the microform department.  She met her first husband, David Levine, a Ph.D. student in computer science and friend, fellow Swarthmore alum, and co-Eastgate conspirator with Mark Bernstein. She began working with Mark editing reviews of technical manuscripts. At some point, he began working on Hypergate and tasked Erin with finding a presidential election that would lend itself to an interactive historical experience. After completing work on The Election of 1912,  Erin became heavily involved with horses, training, teaching, and striving for her own international aspirations in the dressage arena.  She moved out West with her horses and began training racehorses for her current husband. She and her husband now live at C Bar Ranch in New Mexico where they raise registered Angus cattle, primarily for sale as breeding stock. They are also heavily involved with reclamation and erosion control work through U.S. Fish and Wildlife and U.S. Forest Service and do a lot of revegetation with native grasses and shrubs, receiving awards for their work: the Excellence in Range Management Award from the New Mexico Section of the Society for Range Management (2013),  the award for Outstanding Land Stewardship for Region III for the New Mexico Association of Conservation Districts (2015), and the same award for the entire state (2015). They have been chosen to address conservation issues at the Regenerate Conference of the Quivira Coalition in 2018, as well as local groups.

About The Election of 1912

The Election of 1912, subtitled “A hypertext study of the Progressive Era,” is the only historical work published by Eastgate Systems, Inc. It was published in 1988 with Hypergate, a hypertext authoring system created by Bernstein. A rich, complex work that includes bitmapped images, sound, and text, it tells the story of an election that resonates today with the rise of a progressive platform to mitigate social ills, the fierce battle between partisan ideologies, and a politician with a blustery personality threatening to bring down a political party.

Besides the political parallels, The Election of 1912 is a fascinating study of early hypertext interfaces and functionality. Constraints of disk space and hardware memory were overcome by a combination of a menu, tabs and buttons. Menu items, for example, include the conventional “File” and “Edit” but also “BookMark,” which contains “polls,” “simulation,” “About Hypergate,” “cover,” “people,” and “frontispiece.” The “simulation” is particularly interesting in that it offers readers the ability to interact with the work through several elements, but especially the “control panel” where readers can change the course of history by managing the flow of information and activities relating to the election. In effect, it reflects the dynamic and volatile aspect of the election of 1912––and the nature of all elections, including the election of 2020.

About Mariusz Pisarski
Mariusz Pisarski is an electronic literature researcher, editor, producer and translator. He is the author of “Xanadu: Hypertextual metamorphosis of fiction” (Kraków, 2013) and holds a PhD on communication and semiotics of new media from Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan, Poland. In 2012 his dissertation received an award from the National Centre for Culture (Warsaw). His digital literary projects, as well as talks about digital art and culture, have been presented at contemporary art spaces in Paris (Centre Georges Pompidou, Biblioteque Francais), Warsaw (Galeria Foksal, Czuły Barbarzyńca), Kraków (Bunkier Sztuki, Mocak), Polish Institute in Bratislava, Kosice and Vancouver. His translations of American digital literature include hypertext novels afternoon, a storyand Twilight. A Symphony by Michael Joyce; Hypertextual Counsciousness by Mark Amerika, L0ve0ne by Judy Malloy; Hegirascope by Stuart Moulthrop; and Sea and Spar Between by Stephanie Strickland and Nick Montfort (with Monika Górska-Olesińska). He also serves as editor of “Techsty” – journal on new media and literature and creative director for multimedia in Korporacja Ha!art from Cracow. Pisarski has joined the Electronic Literature Lab at Washington State University as a Research Affiliate in 2020-2021.