Lesperance’s project, “Programming a Method for Documenting NetProv” funded by the award, will result in a custom data visualization for Rob Wittig’s seminal NetProv Grace, Wit, & Charm (2011) that will serve as a proof-of-concept for documenting many other NetProv works by the author and others involved in the art form.

Grace, Wit, & Charm is a foundational work in Netprov that constitutes a narrative form of born-digital literature that involves real-time improvised performances transpiring over online platforms. Emerging with the advent of Bulletin Board Systems (BBS) in the 1980s, this art form found popularity in the 2000s with the rise of social media. Affordances of these new systems allow stories to unfold over time and space, with many performers contributing to the narrative. The NEXT (https://the-next.eliterature.org), a virtual museum and library created and maintained by Grigar’s Electronic Literature Lab features The Rob Wittig Collection but cannot exhibit the documentation for the 36 NetProvs  he pioneered because no methodology yet exists. This project will solve this problem.

Lesperance’s project will be built with HTML5, CSS3, JavaScript. Elements from Wittig’s original material made with Flash software will be preserved using ruffle.js, allowing it to be accessed from any public browser. The visualization will consist of an interactive timeline that presents the performance chronologically as a series of clickable elements, which will expand to display posts and subsequent responses.

Lesperance is currently a senior majoring in Digital Technology & Culture. His research will provide new methods for understanding and documenting not only Netprov literature, but also potentially other forms of born-digital communication where human interaction plays out in real-time occurs. It also helps to position Lesperance for potential creative programming jobs after he completes his degree next year.