Join us at the launch of Bill Bly’s We Descend, The Complete Edition on Tuesday, October 10, 2023, from 9 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. PDT via Zoom.  

We Descend is an “artifactual novel presented as an archive of writings gathered and transmitted over a vast span of time.” Volume 1 was published by Eastgate Systems, Inc. in 1997 on the Storyspace platform. Volume 2, released in 2014, and Volume 3 in 2023, were both produced with Tinderbox for the Web. The 2023 Complete Edition featured in the exhibition is the collection of all three volumes brought together and redesigned for the Web by the lab.

The story spans four timelines, beginning with a future post-apocalyptic storyline of Egderus who digs down through eons of data to reconstruct cultural history, encountering, along the way, Writings by an ancient who calls himself the Last One. The metaphor of the “archaeological dig” serves “to visualize time” (Bly, Traversals). 

The reconstruction was undertaken by a team of the lab’s born-digital conservationists. Holly Slocum designed the interface and did front end development. Richard Snyder created the data visualization that expressed the four bands of time the novel covers. Greg Philbrook and Andrew Thompson handled scripting and back end programming. The lab appreciated the HTML code that the artist shared with it.

A copy of this new edition will be held in the ELO Works Collection in The NEXT and maintained for access via the lab’s Git Hub account.