My Boyfriend Came Back From The War?

“My Boyfriend Came Back From The War” is a very interesting hypertext story. It starts off as one big screen, and as you click on images or the hypertext links, the boxes split up and become smaller and smaller. At the “end” of the story, all the boxes are just black boxes with white outlining with no text or images inside. The story is about a man who comes back from some type of war and him and his girlfriend are having various conversations depending which links you choose. In one area the boy proposes to her, and they decide to get married the next month. In another, it is revealed that while he was away the girlfriend cheated on him with the neighbor, and then begs her boyfriend not to kill him. It’s interesting because there isn’t much storytelling going on, a lot of it is up to reader interpretation. The few lines of dialogue there are in the story rarely have more than a few words. I also like the use of the images as links as well, such as the different clocks and the images of the couple. It’s possible I just went through the story wrong, or wasn’t able to figure out how to explore it to its full extent, but for the most part there didn’t really seem to be that much of an option for the reader. It seemed once you starting working your way through a box, even if there were different options they would all lead to the same place. I guess it could be seen as multilinear based on which box you choose, as each one can be perceived as a different storyline. However the way I looked at it they were just multiple different conversations that went on after he came back.

Like most hypertext, this confused me. However, I did really enjoy the aesthetic used of the boxes slowly getting smaller and smaller as you progressed through the story and were able to make different choices. I think I got the main idea of what the story was, as well as some of the more important outcomes for the storylines. Like I said above, I also enjoyed the relationship between the images and the pieces of text in this. It really feels like it blends together that much better and I love in the beginning that you click on the image of his face, and then once it splits up you have the option to click on his face again. I like the grainy black and white style the pictures have going on, it makes the story have more of a sinister feeling to it, almost like you’re not getting the whole story of what’s happening between the two (which I don’t believe we are, I think there’s much more to the story). It’s different from other pieces we’ve seen in the past because usually you pick one story and pursue it, and if you want to pick a different route you start over. This one you can go through every single route right after each other without having to restart or go again, since they’re all on the same page.

World of Awe: A Traveler’s Tale

Web-born works opened a lot of doors for those with the ambition to explore, experiment and create in a similar yet altered environment from being solely digital in origin but not accessible far and wide to the public.

World of Awe is particularly interesting because of how deep the immersion into this work goes. The sound encourages a feeling of solidarity almost to the point of being lost in some deserted area with how the wind howls in the background. The occasional buzz or tune of a computer, a voice singing and laughing, circus and electronic music, and typing all combined together. When the chapter opens, it appears as though you are actually on an older style computer interface.

Examining the content on the computer, you discover travel logs, love letters, maps (Eep [Digital] and Moo [Leather]), and all the while exploring this content, the background on the computer changes as if going through time and seeing the various backup files piled up on top of each other. There’s clearly something wrong within the work (all intentionally no doubt) with the computer or the person searching for the lost treasure. The work has a dark sense surrounding it from the start, a sort of twisted essence that lingers, carrying through at a constant. At one point in love letter 654/638, the traveler writes,

This bit is written, indented in such a way that it is almost as if they are writing a poem and yet the words themselves, repeating over and over sound like that of a madman. The traveler repeats themselves quite a lot throughout the note over all, calling it a joke but still marking at the end that they’re continuing to search for the lost treasure.

Looking at the work as a whole, it fully embraces not only the concept of multi-linearity as you explore the contents of the computer and put the pieces together in your mind or write down notes, but World of Awe also touches upon poetic formatting, moving image and various sounds. The interface takes advantage of the navigation system, or perhaps it is actually the navigation system taking advantage of the interface. Yael Kanarek clearly took the opportunity to explore the options available to her when creating this work. Compared to older works of hypertext, again it does feel more immersive while interacting, listening, and exploring the interface. However, with that in mind, it is by no means an “easy” work to traverse through.

“Introduction to Net.Art (1994-1999)” by Natalie Bookchin & Alexei Shulgin
World of Awe by Yael Kanarek
The Rhizome Anthology entry on Yael Kanarek’s World of Awe: The Traveler’s Journal (Chapter 1: Forever)

Blog 4 – 2/8/19

I had first heard of “My Boyfriend Came Back from the War” when I started at WSU in 2017. Now that I have gone through a few different DTC classes I have clicked through this story on multiple occasions, and it seems to get more interesting every time I look more into it.  Olia Lialina’s story, uses simple HTML elements to communicate a somewhat haunting like a cinematic narrative. Olia Lialina’s story tells the story of a young lady who is reuniting with her love, after his return from war. The story makes use of browser frames, hypertext, and also includes both animated and still images. This story highlights the artistic similarities and separations between cinema and the web as mediums, and explores the early language of the internet. The author uses the web to question our understandings of the story and organization of memory through a set of on-screen graphics that are clickable.

The story is somewhat Incomplete which opens up a user’s imagination through navigation and reinterpretation of the piece. “My Boyfriend Came Back from the War” demonstrates the possibility to use the internet as a way to remember, together. The work brought cinematic themes such as pulsing imagery, intertitles, and close-ups of actors into an interactive, multilinear structure of hypertext. As you click on each fragment, the browser window splits into smaller and smaller frames. When interacting with this story a user can advance through the story by clicking on the hyperlinks, images, and incomplete phrases. I like this story. For how old this story is, I get a feeling that it was written in more modern times, being that we are still at war in the middle east.

Blog Post 1

Taroko Gorge had an really interesting piece of work. When I first opened it, I observed it for a really long time trying to make sense of it. I tried to piece the sentences together to see if it made a story or a statement. While I couldn’t quite piece any of the words or sentences together I did notice a pattern in the work. The sentences all would say very similar things. It when I went through this piece of work I noticed how this one sentence would say “encompassing objective dim-“, “encompassing cool-“, “encompassing sinuous straight dim”, and “stamp the straight objective dim-“. This was only one sentence pattern that I noticed as I noticed as the sentences kept coming, it would cause more words to be in different and similar patterns. I remember learning about Dadaist when I took 101 and out of all the digital artist Dadaist and surrealist stood out to me the most. I find Dada real interesting and when I took a look at this work after I read the chapters it reminded me of it. Gorge, like all other Dadaists, have created something that I would have never before thought existed. Its so interesting to me seeing the types of things bots can create. 

Hypertext Fiction 2

I see the future of hypertext fiction evolving as a literary form that will become much more accessible for people. I think that it’s a given that everyone has the ability to write hypertext, but not everyone is aware of hypertext, thus creating a genre that is somewhat rare. Since Twine is such a streamlined software, that I can see it’s popularity growing even more throughout the years, as us and technology evolves. The link-based structure and nonlinearity of hypertext allows artists to express their ideas in a way that comes as close to entering their individual thought process as possible. Nonlinearity has been around since the Soviet Montage Theory of the 1920s and has only evolved since then, and will continue to do so. Nonlinearity has been expressed through literature, film, etc. and I believe it has a place in every art form.

The Future of Hypertext

As one who is coming late to the genre of electronic literature, and thus to the form of hypertext fiction, the genre and form are still exciting to me. I may have less than a dozen Twine stories under my belt and my stories are utterly simplistic compared to what others have done, but I still feel curious and inspired when it comes to hypertext fiction. I like to imagine that others feel the same. Truthfully, I don’t have to imagine. Electronic literature as a field of study is still fairly new, and Rettberg’s book is one of the first real academic works on the subject. It was highly anticipated, and that’s because people are still very much interested in it; its forms, function, origin, and future.

The form of hypertext, using the word “form” loosely here, is almost neurological in nature. Just as neurons in the brain form bridges between like items based on association, hypertext fictions jump around with the author’s thoughts. Shelley Jackson described her writing style as “related fragments with no overarching design” (1998) and likened her creative process to stitching a quilt “where each patch is itself a patchwork.” In this way, I feel very like Marshal McLuhan’s “the medium is the message” is validated. The form is part of the story, and it’s intentional. The fragmentation in hypertext very much echoes the way we think in the digital age, clicking links to move between thoughts and gain more information, while our brain struggles to categorize and sort the date into a big picture that makes sense. In this way, hypertext accomplishes what print cannot, and it forces us to grow as readers. If this cycle continues, with writers and readers growing and adapting to ever-changing forms of writing (and I don’t see how it couldn’t) I think the future of hypertext could be even more interesting than its history.

Hypertext over Print

The non-linear nature of hypertext fiction can express more than print can due to the nature of randomness and the arbitrary connections readers create while reading a nonlinear story. Randomness refers to mathematically random sequences, made possible by programming. The word arbitrary refers to decisions or connections made for no specific reason or a not necessarily relevant reason, decisions made by a human. When a story is reordered and put into a nonlinear form that can be regenerated again and again through the use of programming, the reader makes sense of the story in different ways every time. New stories can be formed in the mind of the reader with the same text be formed in different orders, or by new text being created and inserted into a preexisting story. The hyperlinked nature of electronic literature allows viewers to “choose their own adventure” combining the random aspect of programming with the arbitrary nature of the reader’s choices, allowing the story to be rewritten in almost an infinite number of ways.

Electronic literature’s uses the properties of a computer, programmability and the network, creates literature that could not exist in print

Hypertext 2

Hypertext storytelling is an interesting approach to telling stories. The idea of multi-linearity and non-linearity present incredible potential for great stories, and there have been many stories that are compelling and interesting. “Patchwork Girl” by Shelly Jackson for example which was inspired by the classic “Frankenstein” represent how effective hypertext storytelling can be. With all of this potential though, hypertext storytelling wasn’t as revolutionary as some had thought. This happened for different reasons, one being the fact that nonlinear reading, as explained by Steven Johnson, is incredibly hard to write.

“When you tried to make an argument or tell a journalistic story in which any individual section could be a starting or ending point, it wound up creating a whole host of technical problems, the main one being that you had to reintroduce characters or concepts in every section.”

This issue is just one example but it is representative of some of the problems with hypertext. Another example can be seen in “afternoon, a story.” The story is well written and it has interesting characters, but it is incredibly hard to follow with jumping perspectives and just its nonlinear nature. I understand the idea is to explore the story and figure out what happened but because of its format and structure, it is more frustrating than engaging. Of course this isn’t to say that it is a bad hypertext story, it was one of the earlier stories told through hypertext so of course it wasn’t going to be perfect.

Hypertext also has the problem of hardware as pointed out by Robert Coover discussed. Hardware limitations and introduction of new technology have caused some hypertext stories to become unavailable, only accessible through old technology which use old technologies like floppy discs.

Hypertext is certainly not a dead form of storytelling or a bad one, there are still communities that exist like Twine for example, which give users the ability to create incredible multi-linear and non-linear hypertext stories. I think that hypertext has shown the power of nonlinear and multilinear stories and its influence can be felt in many different modern methods of storytelling. It certainly didn’t bring the death of books as Robert Coover suggested in his article, an idea which has not aged well. Traditional storytelling that comes from books will never go away, nor should it.


The Future of Hypertext

I think that hypertext has several advantages that print does not. Print is limited by its own physical space. A book with a large enough amount of information could become uncomfortable to read without splitting the text into multiple volumes. Larger pieces of hypertext fiction would not be as enjoyable to read in a print form because the book required to hold them would be too large and tedious to navigate. The ability to directly link to another page is key to keeping the experience as clear and simple as possible. The definition of hyper text is literally

the writing done in the nonlinear or nonsequential space made possible by the computer.

The digital aspect also lends a lot of extra interactivity that print does not. While print is made up of only letters, pictures, and the pages they are printed on, hypertext fiction has the potential for greater reader participation. I would say that hypertext fiction lends itself well to digital games. There are many games today that are less action based and more decision and story driven. The decisions in these games, such as Life is Strange, The Last of Us, and The Wolf Among Us, determine which part of the story the user gets to experience which is fairly similar to the links within hypertext.

I think hypertext fiction has a broad future because of the different opportunities to experiment within its form. The population of the world today is also becoming more and more digital native, so the clicking of links is almost an innate response when interest is sparked. With a natural understanding of linking and a passion for storytelling more and more new and innovative hypertext fiction will be produced. While most of what I’m saying in this post aligns with Robert Coover’s point of view from “The End of Books”, I do believe that books will continue to be utilized by humans for centuries. Books have a continuous stream of knowledge that take even less effort to read than hypertext fiction. When it comes to people they usually like to do whatever takes the least amount of effort at any given time.

The Future of Hypertext Fiction

I believe that there is a growing interest in the complexities of human interaction and society. I also think that there is a growing interest in our future. I think that hypertext fiction perfectly encompasses these interests. Before even becoming aware and versed with hypertext fiction, I was a fan of the Netflix series, “Black Mirror”. This series explores human consequences, and especially the consequences of modern day technology. The Netflix show has quite the fan base, and has even inspired other works. I believe this show highlights the emerging interest in human consequences and technology. I find it especially entertaining to delve and explore those consequences when they aren’t personally affecting me. It’s interesting to talk about the “what if?”. I have also seen an emergence in this theme in video gaming. The widely popular game, “Red Dead Redemption 2”, follows the storyline of an outlaw. The player, although following a set storyline, can make decisions for the character to determine their morality, and the way that the story plays out. Hypertext fiction is a very exploratory genre that I believe follows these trends. It allows the reader to make decisions, explore consequences as an outsider, explore technology, and explore the complexities of human nature and thinking. The Netflix show “Black Mirror”, in particular, recently came out with a film. This film called, “Bandersnatch”, is a branching, but mostly linear story, that the audience can control through prompts and their television remote. In the article, “Why No One Clicked on the Great Hypertext Story”, by Steven Johnson, Johnson explores the evolving of Hypertext fiction. He says that our internet tendencies, like reading a blog, or following links in a news article, follows a hypertext format.

Although following along a similar thread, true hypertext fiction of nonlinear, branching and linking story-telling, have become more obsolete. Even in the instances of “Black Mirror”, and “Red Dead Redemption 2”, these narratives follow a general linear path and generally move forward in the narrative with each decision. In “Afternoon, a Story” by Michael Joyce, the narrative although having a base linear story, often take spindling directions that can land you in the beginning, middle, or end of the story. “Afternoon, a Story”, also incorporates the challenge of multiple character’s viewpoints that further complicates the story.

Johnson states in his piece that, “It turned out that nonlinear reading spaces had a problem: They were incredibly difficult to write.” This statement seems to predict the way that Johnson believes hypertext fiction will continue to evolve. Although Hypertext fiction certainly follows developments in current trends, I believe that linear fiction will certainly win out. The evolved version of hypertext fiction that follows a primarily linear path, such as the “Black Mirror” movie, “Bandersnatch”, is what I believe will remain popular. The link-structure, nonlinearity and fragmentation of hypertext can certainly express more of human nature, human thought processes, and human consequence, although I believe it’s cousin of linearity, will continue to remain more popular.

The Future of Hypertext

Image result for hypertext

With the emergence of hypertext in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, it was seen as both the end of print culture as well as a precursor for the future of how information would be viewed and consumed on the web. In a sense, it served as a bridge from how we used to read information, both fictional and factual, to how we currently do so.

Hypertext certainly allows for the opportunity to express in ways which are limited by print. Shelley Jackson states in regards to her work Patchwork Girl that she thinks in things arranged in a place, and the use of hypertext allows for her to create in a way that is more conducive to her creative method. Additionally, the in class reading of “afternoon, a story” exemplified how many pathways one may take while reading a work of hypertext fiction. While navigating through the story, the reader may gain a plethora of different perspectives based on how they choose to navigate through the story in a way that is clear and concise, something that is not possible with a printed work.

While social media has pushed aside the use of hypertext as of late, the re-emergence of hypertext through platforms such as Twine has allowed for authors to re-explore how hypertext can be used to form an intriguing story through a simple and usable interface. Furthermore, web users familiarizing themselves with social media has in turn familiarized them with hypertext. Referring back to Shelley Jackson, she states:

“Regular web-users already understand implicitly how to read a hypertext; they may not be accustomed to thinking about what they’ve just read as akin to novels and stories, but they will”.

The concept of how hypertext works is a familiar concept understood by the common web-user, which in turn will allow for non-linear storytelling through hypertext to regain prominence in today’s world.

Sources: “Stitch Bitch: The Hypertext Author As Cyborg-Femme Narrator”, Mark Amerika

Change is only a matter of Time: Hypertext

The change from traditional text to hypertext has only happened in the past decade with the advent of the medium as a whole. While hypertext new to the realm of storytelling I don’t think it will have as much of an impact as traditional books did. the use of hypertext has changed our culture and world really, like what was stated in Rettberg how hypertext introduced multilinearity to society. All of us in class grew up with the traditional book but have all learned how to use and interact with hypertext. this doesn’t mean that we all like one or the other better but it will be interesting to see younger generations as they grow up with both forms of storytelling what they will gravitate towards. whether we will all but abandon the traditional style of storytelling or if there will be a balance that happens. the latter is more likely. As well as how we interact with hypertext will change in time and who knows where it will go.