Riffing on Books and Life – Arts & Sciences Literary Blog by interactive new media author & artist Terry Bailey

29Jan/10

New Media Literature as demonstrated by Janet Murray’s Hamlet on the Holodeck

Hamlet on the Holodeck front cover

Hamlet on the Holodeck front cover

Hamlet on the Holodeck: The Future of Narrative in Cyberspace is deep. No brief book review could do it justice, and for this reason alone I would recommend it as mandatory reading for anyone interested in the future of narrative writing now that the computer and cyberspace exist. As author Janet Murray states, “the computer is . . . . the most powerful representational medium yet invented . . .” (284).

Murray gives a thought-provoking analysis of the history, present and future of cyberdrama. By her own admission, the present and future are difficult to describe or predict given the rapid pace of change in the computer/cyber world. It is true enough that much of her book, penned in 1996 and updated in 2000, seems already quite out of date. The history she provides, however, will always make this an important reference for new media writers, historians and theorists.

For me, what is missing in Murray’s analysis is a look at the future of nonfiction cyber (new media, multimedia, interactive media, electronic literature) writing. Hamlet on the Holodeck itself, being a stationary, word-only, book-based piece of writing, misses the opportunity to stay current, to evolve, that a cyberbook would have. Murray also avoids analysis of the world of writing and reading that the computer opens to the nonfiction world, remaining focused only on the world of fiction, narrative storytelling.

One point of contention for me in Murray’s theories is her focus on the subject of immersion. For Murray, coming from a gaming background at MIT where she teaches and researches, immersive experiences appear to be the positive and mandatory goal of cyber narrative. She is not alone in this thinking. Most of the books written on the subject of new media narrative that I encounter today focus on writing for gaming. As I personally am an advocate of postmodern forms of writing that engage a reader/participant in the act of reading/viewing by reminding them of their present reality, of the constructions of the author, and through avoidance of totally immersive experiences, it was often difficult for me to “buy into” many of Murray’s theories or projected goals of cyber narrative.

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17Jan/10

My Electronic Book, Amy Beach and Me, Launches!

Home Page of Amy Beach and Me by Terry Bailey

Home Page of Amy Beach and Me by Terry Bailey

I have launched my new web-based electronic book, Amy Beach and Me, at amybeachandme.com. I hope you will check it out and leave your thoughts at its accompanying blog (amybeachandme.com/blog - see button top right of the book, too). The book is a biography of the first noted woman composer in the United States, and a memoir.

My plan here is to talk about electronic literature for  a while now, and to take a look at some books on the subject. Not to worry, I will get back to other books I have mentioned recently (like Foer's Eating Animals), but think it might be of interest to all of us to explore the future of literature in terms of electronic writing here at riffing on books - since that is what I do! For the duration of my MFA writing studies, I not only wrote electronic literature, new media, but did extensive study on the topic as well, and I look forward to sharing that information here at my riffing on books site.

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10Jan/10

I’m Back

Graduation with MFA from Antioch and Holidays - 2009-2010

Graduation with MFA from Antioch and Holidays - 2009-2010

Away a little longer than anticipated, but, hey, how many months does one celebrate the holidays and graduate with an MFA? I could say I definitely earned a month long brief vacation! For the last two years I have worked 3 12-hour days per week in order to conjure up the four days I needed to complete a Master of Fine Arts degree in New Media Writing (officially in creative nonfiction) at Antioch University. I must say these two years have been the most demanding and most appreciated of my life. What writer doesn't dream of four uninterrupted days in a row to write? And how few have that ideal creative space is a sad statement of our society's valuing of the Arts. I will talk about my MFA writing experience in upcoming posts. And I will share the fruits of my labor very soon: I am primarily talking about an electronic book I have written, which I will share as soon as I get the blog for it up and running. My book riffs (i.e. the inspiration for this blog) began in that program as well. So, what did I do for my month off? Well I studied with some awesome writers for my last MFA residency, I was wowed by the final readings of all the students in my graduating cohort at Antioch, I had a successful (and controversial due to the feminist nature of it, which surprises the heck out of me in 2010, and I will write more about that to be sure) final reading, I wore a cap and gown and proudly participated in that ritual we call graduation, I partied with my cohort (go Sages!), I holidayed with my friends, I watched our National Parade, I played some music, I read (of course) and I slept a lot! Oh, and did I mention going to hear Jonathan Safran Foer read from his new Eating Animals as the kick-off to graduating - : ) ?

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