Stuart and I have been invited to give a talk about Pathfinders at the 2015 International Narrative Conference, taking place at Swisshotel in Chicago, Il from March 5-8, 2015. We were invited to present on a panel created by Eric Dean Rasmussen that also includes Bernard Gervais, Ariane Savoie, and Ed Finn. My particular talk is entitled, Uncle Buddy and an Argument for Collection.”
Here is the abstract:
In order to experience John McDaid’s Uncle Buddy’s Phantom Funhouse, one of the finest examples of early electronic literature and an early experiment with multimedia storytelling, readers need access to a Macintosh computer, circa 1992, running Hypercard 2.0––for reading and seeing the words and images––and a cassette player––for hearing the music. Because these technologies are no longer easily accessible, this important cultural work is not well known today by a new generation of literary scholars.
There are countless other Uncle Buddy’s out there, works published by Eastgate Systems, Voyager, and other prominent publishers of the early to mid 1990s. This presentation argues for collection as a method of conservation of digital literature, focusing on examples of early literature that are now impossible to read or gain access to and processes those involved in collection use for introducing a contemporary public to this important literary work.
I want to thank Eric for organizing this panel and giving Stuart and me the chance to talk about our work.
The videos of Bill Bly’s traversal and interview are now available at our Vimeo Channel.
Bill Bly Interview, Part 1 from Dene Grigar on Vimeo.
If you are visiting this site, you probably already know that Bill is the author of the hypertext, We Descend, an important work of early digital literature published by Eastgate Systems in the 1990s.
You can read the brief essay I wrote about the work. If you are a Dante lover, you may enjoy the essay from the perspective of the journey theme found in Dante’s Commedia.
We included Bill in Pathfinders at the invitation of Matthew Kirschembaum at the University of Maryland’s Maryland Institute of Technology in the Humanities where the Bill Bly Collection is archived. Porter Olson, a PhD candidate at UMD and a scholar involved in the Bit Curator project, is transcribing the videos so that they exist in a textual form for use by scholars. It is this kind of translational redundancy that Pathfinders embraces, advocating as we do for collecting as well as emulating and migrating for digital translation and transcriptions for media translation.
I am writing about media translation in my article for Maria Mencia’s book to be published with the University of West Virginia Press. Specially, I will be looking at the ways in which Uncle Roger changes as it moves from the serial poem delivered over the WELL, to the database narrative that constitutes the version found on the floppy disks, and then to the web-based version available currently. A same type of study can be undertaken with Bill’s We Descend since it too has been published in various formats. Any grad students looking for a research topic for a M.A. thesis out there?