Angels and Network Writing

“Electronic Literature is most simply described as new forms and genres of writing that explore the specific capabilities of the computer and the network”

– Scott Rettberg
Most of the electronic literature we have discussed in this class has been focused on, or more apparently has to do with, the computers programming capabilities. Other than hypertext fiction, most of the works we have been traversing have been fueled or made interactable through their programmed elements. Network writing is focused on the network capabilities of the computer.

“Networks are both technological and social structures. For electronic literature, networks are both platform and material.”

– Scott Rettberg

Network writing is made up of collaborative works that use the capabilities of the network to build the piece, or the piece resides in a networked instance on the internet, such as social media posts, email, or websites. The piece “The Fall of the Site of Marsha” by Rob Wittig combines these two aspects of network writing. The work is hosted on three iterations of a nostalgic HTML site, created by Marsha with the help of her husband, Mike, dedicated to angels. The iterations of the site get subsequently darker as the angels take over, first adding text, that is struck through to represent Marsha and Mike’s attempts at stopping the angels, and eventually deteriorates to a disturbed and dark version of the website, where the angels have taken over. This work emulates collaborative network writing, with the angels editing and eventually taking over the content of the site. The work may be more palatable to traversers who are uncomfortable with the difficulty of traversing more programmed works, as it is presented in three static HTML sites. Traversers may become emotionally engaged in the work, as there are definite antagonists and protagonists, and the work presents itself in a linear fashion, if the traverser chooses to traverse the sites in order.