a thesis by Raine Koskimaa Today we are living in an increasingly digitalized culture – so much so that it soon may become as ubiquitous as electricity. When that happens, it will be as trivial to speak of digital-whatever, as is at present to speak of electrical culture. The pace and mode of digitalization varies from one cultural sphere to another. All cultural phenomena have their own traditions, conventions, and ways to evolve. There is always friction – cultural habits seldom change over-night, even though technological development may be drastic at certain times. Cultural phenomena are also diverse and heterogeneous and the change may proceed at different speed in different aspects of the phenomenon. This is very much the situation of literature at the moment. In book printing the digital presses have been a part of every day business for some time already. Through word processors a vast majority of literature is written and stored in digital format. We can say that since the 80’s digital processing has been an inseparable part of book production, even though the end product has been, and still mainly is, a printed book. The computer revolution and accompanying software development have given birth to a whole new field of digital texts, which are not bound to the book as a medium. These texts can be read from computer screen, or increasingly, from different reading devices, so called e-books. Digital textuality opens an infinite field to expand literary expression. The difference between print and digital texts can be put simply: print text is static, digital text is dynamic. Digital textuality can be used in many ways in literature. So far the most common way has been to treat digital textuality as an alternative medium for literature – the literature stays the same even though it is published as digital text; it could be published in print as well. There are certain advantages in digital format as such, eg. digital files can be transferred quickly from one place to another, digital texts can be easily updated etc. There is, however, literature which uses digital textuality much more effectively. They integrate aspects of digital dynamics as part of their signifying structure and widen the range of literary expression. Typically this literature cannot be published in print at all. The rise of the so called new media in the wake of digitalization has caused strong media panics, which have had a take on the ponderings about the future of literature too. In most generic forms the questions have been: will book disappear?, will reading die?, will literature vanish? Naturally, there are no simple answers to these questions and answering them is even harder because several different (even though closely interrelated) topics are usually confused. It seems as a safe guess that book as we know it will loose ground to digital texts. This will not, however, be as drastic a change as it may sound to some – literature is not bound to book format. Literature has survived changes from orality to papyrus scrolls; to pergaments; to codex book; there is no reason to believe it would not survive the change for the machines. Literature is inevitably dependent, to some extent, on its medium, but this does not mean that the evolution of literature would be simply following changes in its material basis. The medium sets its limitations, but inside those limits literature has been continuously changing and evolving. The change from print text to digital text doesn’t automatically cause any changes in literature. On the other hand, there seems to be a line of evolution inside literature which tends towards digital textuality without any outside pressure, as a natural next step. Also, digital textuality has caused an opposite evolution, literature which is pointedly committed to the materiality of print book. So, if we take a look at literature today, we can see that there are several things going on simultaneously: traditional print literature is still going strong (according to many indicators, stronger than ever), there is parallel publishing (the same text in print and digital formats), there is literature published in digital format because of technical reasons, there is such ”natively” digital literature which isn't possible in print, and there is literature published as handmade artists' books. Digitalization touches the whole field of literature, directly or indirectly, more or less strongly. Still, this is just the beginning, and the transitory nature of the present situation has resulted in spectacular prophesies and speculations regarding the future of literature. Speculations are important, naturally, as there is no future without visions, but we need also to stop for a while now and then and reflect. And first observations probably are: there is very little of original digital literature existing yet; the old conventions, formed during the five centuries of print literature, direct our expectations of digital literature; the boundaries between literature and non-literature are becoming diffuse. In this study, I have chosen ”hypertext” as the central concept. If we define hypertext as interconnected bits of language (I am stretching Ted Nelson’s original definition quite a lot, but still maintaining its spirit, I believe) we can understand why Nelson sees hypertext ”as the most general form of writing”. There is no inherent connotation to digital in hypertext (the first hypertext system was based on microfilms), but it is the computerized, digital framework – allowing the easy manipulation of both texts and their connections - which gives the most out of it. In addition to the ”simple” hypertexts, there is a whole range of digital texts much more complex and more ”clever”, which cannot be reduced to hypertext, even though they too are based on hypertextuality. Such digital texts as MUDs (Multi User Domains – text based virtual realities) are clearly hypertextual – there are pieces of text describing different environments usually called ”rooms” and the user may wander from room to room as in any hypertext. At the same time, however, there are several other functions available for the user, she may talk with other users, write her own rooms, program objects performing special tasks, or, solve problems and collect game points. Hypertextuality and hypertext theory do not help us much (if at all) in understanding this kind of textual functionality. For that we need cybertext theory. Cybertextuality is – as Espen Aarseth has defined it – a perspective on all texts, a perspective which takes into account and foregrounds the functionality of all texts. From the cybertextual point of view all texts are machines which perform certain functions and which have to be used in a certain way. Also, the reader may be required to perform some functions in order to be able to read the texts, or, she may be allowed to act as an active participant inside the textual world. Cybertextuality, then, is not only about digital texts, but because digital form allows much more freedom to textual functionality, there is much more need for cybertext theory in the field of digital texts than in print text. So, keeping in mind cybertextuality is a perspective on all texts, we can use the term cybertext in a more limited sense to refer to functional digital texts – this means that all digital texts are not necessary cybertexts (plain text files like in the Project Gutenberg archives, or, e-texts in pdf format are no more functional than average print texts). Now we can better define the scope of this study. The theoretical framework is a combination of cybertext theory and more traditional theory of literature. The focus is on hypertext fiction, even though several other text types - digital and non-digital, literary and non literary, fiction and poetry – are also discussed. To deepen the understanding of hypertext fiction and its reading, quite of lot of attention is paid to the evolutionary line of print fiction which seems to be a major influence in the background. That aspect explains the first part of the subtitle, ”From text to hypertext”, with an emphasis on the transitory phase we are witnessing. On the other hand, the approach is open to the latent aspects of the hypertexts discussed, which already refer to the wider cybertextual properties – because of that the ”and Beyond”. In the main title, ”Digital Literature”, literature is used in a narrow (”literary”) sense. The method is inductive in that through scrutinizing individual, concrete exmples, a more general understanding of the field is sought after. Through not trying to include all the possible digital text types in this study I aim to be more analytic than descriptive. This work should be seen as a collection of independent papers – some of them are previously published, some are still waiting for a proper forum. Most of them have started as seminar papers. I have used the opportunity to make some corrections and changes to the articles previously published (mainly to reduce redundancy, or, to add materials cut out from the publications) – thus, the chapters of this study are not identical with published versions. This study is in its fullest form as a web based electronic text – however, if you are reading this study in print format you are not missing anything substantial. The web text includes additional linking, which makes it easier to follow some ”sub-plots” inside the work – themes that reoccur in different contexts. Also, in web version, many of the works discussed are directly linked to the text, and thus, only a click away. In the first chapter of this study I will give a description of the various traditions behind digital literature, of characteristic properties of digital literature, and, the basics of cybertext theory. I consider various hypertext studies belonging as a part to the broader category of cybertext theory. The second chapter, ”Hyperhistory, Cybertheory: From Memex to ergodic literature”, is an overview of cybertext theory, circling around Aarseth’s theory of cybertext and ergodic literature. Various other approaches are discussed, and integrated to the theoretical framework. For understanding cybertext theory, a historical glance to the development of hypertext systems (and ideologies behind them) is necessary. The integration of hyper- and cybertheories is still very much in progress – hopefully this chapter contributes to that integration. In the third chapter ”Replacement and Displacement. At the limits of print fiction”, several novels and stories are scrutinized from the cybertextual perspective. The aim of the chapter is to show the various ways in which print fiction has anticipated hypertextual practices. The fourth chapter, ”Ontolepsis: from violation to central device” focusses on the narrative device which I have dubbed ontolepsis. Ontolepsis covers different kinds of ”leaks” between separate ontological levels (inside fictional universe). Metalepsis, the crossing of levels of embedded narration, is one type of ontolepses, and certainly so far the most studied one. There is a rather lengthy discussion of fictional ontology, and its relation to narrative levels, because these are essential topics in understanding the phenomenon of ontolepsis in all its forms. A science fiction novel, Philip K. Dick’s Ubik, is used as an example, because its multilayered ontology serves perfectly in illustrating the multifarious nature of ontolepsis. In fiction, ontolepses have been seen as violations of certain conventions – the latter part of the chapter discusses how in hypertext fiction ontolepsis has become a central narrative device. In the fifth chapter, ”Visual structuring of hypertext narratives”, three hypertexts, Michael Joyce’s Afternoon, Stuart Moulthrop’s Victory Garden, and Shelley Jackson’s Patchwork Girl, are analyzed stressing their navigation interfaces and use of ”spatial signification”. Narratological questions are also foregrounded. Chapters six and seven, ”Reading Victory Garden – Competing Interpretations and Loose Ends” and ”In Search of Califia” form a pair. They are rather lengthy analyses, or, interpretations, of Stuart Moulthrop’s Victory Garden, and M. D. Coverley’s Califia. In the end of Califia chapter, the question of interpreting hypertexts is discussed. Two forms of interpretative practice, hermeneutics and poetics, seem to have their own roles in regard to hypertexts. The next chapter, ”Negotiating new reading conventions” focusses on reading. In this chapter I’ll look at how traditional reading conventions, on the one hand, still inform hypertext reading, and on the other hand, how hypertexts themselves teach new reading habits, and how new reading formations are negotiated. The final chapter, ”Hypertext Fiction in the Twilight Zone” is a kind of summary. It suggest that fiction based on ”pure” hypertext may be closing its end, and at the same time, looks at the cybertextual means which have appeared to fertilize the field anew. In the horizon there are computer games, virtual realities and other massively programmed forms towering, but also a possibility for a new literature.  Which is not to say that there were no use for cybertext theory in the field of print texts – first, there is an amount of experimental or avant garde print texts which take full advantage of functionality potential print book offers; and secondly, there is still much to do to understand the way how literature (even in the most traditional form) works as a technology (see Sukenick (1972) ”The New Tradition”, in In Form: Digressions on the Act of Fiction. Carbondale and Edwardsville: Southern Illinois University Press) – cybertext theory should prove quite fruitful in that field of study. more visit http://users.jyu.fi/~koskimaa/thesis/thesis.shtml
Digital literature scholar Jessica Pressman will speak on the future of literary studies in an upcoming lecture at Coe College. The event will be held on Thursday, Feb.21 at 4 p.m. in Kesler Lecture Hall of Hickok Hall. Entitled “Electronic Literature: Literary Studies in the 21st Century,” the presentation is free and open to the public. In her lecture, Pressman will share her work on literature and how the digital age has changed the future of it. Her book, “Digital Modernism: Making it in the New Media,” describes how changes in technology are shaping the ways in which we read, study and engage with print and electronic literature. Currently, Pressman researches and teaches 20th and 21st century experimental American literature, digital literature and media theory. She is a Fellow with the American Council of Learned Societies and a Visiting Scholar in the Literature Department at the University of California – San Diego. She has served as assistant professor of English at Yale University and received her Ph.D. in English from UCLA in 2007. Pressman has earned awards for her work as an educator and writer. She received the Sarai Ribicoff Teaching Excellence Award from Yale College in 2010. More recently, she earned the Morse Fellowship Research Sabbatical from Yale University to complete research on her second book. The author’s other works include “Close Reading Electronic Literature, a Collaborative Case Study of William Poundstone’s ‘Project for the Tachistoscope: [Bottomless Pit],’” co-written with Mark C. Marino and Jeremy Douglass, and “New Paradigms for the Humanities: Comparative Textual Medium,” co-edited with N. Katherine Hayles. Pressman is currently working on a manuscript that examines the fetishization of the book object in 21st century print and digital literary culture. Pressman is articles editor for “Digital Humanities Quarterly,” president of the MLA Media & Literature Executive Committee, a member of the board of directors at the Electronic Literature Organization, and a board member for the online journal of digital art Dichtung-Digital. For more information, call 399-8581 or visit coe.edu.
Skyhorse (A Herman Graf Book) February 2012 * 384 pages/50 b&w illustrations
A CENTENNIAL EDITION OF THE CRITICALLY ACCLAIMED BESTSELLER FIRST PUBLISHED IN 1980
TITANIC: End of a Dream relies on survivors' accounts to establish some startling facts, including that almost two-thirds of the first-class passengers survived while only a quarter of the steerage passengers made it to safety. And that those in the lifeboats chose to ignore the piteous cries of passengers in the water, almost all of whom perished. This chilling account demonstrates that the Titanic's sinking was in many ways entirely avoidable. He begins with Titanic leaving on its maiden voyage from Southampton, full of hope and excitement. He then quickly shifts to the scene of confusion and horror right after the sinking, when few facts were known. In the next chapters the sinking comes to life through an official Inquiry into the disaster, due to the work of a Senator from Michigan and his committee who actually met the rescue ship Carpathia in New York and served many of the notables with subpoenas. The Inquiry was held within a week of the rescue ship arriving in New York. Particularly memorable is the chapter detailing the negligence of the Californian - in reality the closest ship to the point of sinking. Therefore, Wyn’s book is based on source material that was very fresh and thus gives a great read that fills in so many details that would otherwise have been lost to time and embellishment.
Titanic was truly a community afloat, with everything you might find in a small city: a government, social classes, and a sense of forward progress. As Titanic left the dock, she was almost a caricature of herself. The appropriately named ship was symbolic of the dreams and expectations of the men, women and children in 1912 prior to World War I. As they looked ahead at the brave new world they were building, Titanic reflected who they were In TITANIC: End of a Dream detail-oriented journalist Wade translates the human emotions of the Titanic sinking into modern culture. Wyn conveys what Titanic—and, more importantly, the sinking of Titanic—meant to the people of that time. If we cannot understand the impact of Titanic on the world of 1912, how can we possibly understand how Titanic integrates into our culture and thinking today?
This title will be released on October 2011. The Inquisitor’s Apprentice Book 2, Manuscript available December 2011. & The Inquisitor’s Apprentice Book 3, Manuscript available December 2012
This book is admirably well plotted, really tight and compelling. The pace is brisk, but well detailed too--and characters are nicely developed. Just generally well written.
I am in LOVE with the setting and the premise. The idea of magic-as-replaced-by-machines, of capitalists as the villains behind the end of "old world" magic. It's brilliant. The way all of these historical characters and institutions (Edison, Houdini, the IWW, Morgan Library, etc) are incorporated and "magicalized" is smart, and never feels arbitrary. And the author appears to have done her research! Reading, I really did feel submerged in the building of the subways, the dingy tenements, Coney Island sideshows, etc.
The biggest issue for me, as I read, was this nagging sense that there was an incongruity to the use of Judaism (and maybe other identities too) as the cultural/religious basis for magic. In the book, some rabbis are understood to be Kabbalists, though mysticism is illegal. As are basic conjuring, spells, hexes, etc. This is INTERESTING. Especially as faith/magic are then replaced by the industrial/capitalistic world. Interesting.
And as a Jewish reader, I liked references to dybbuks. I liked that Yiddish was tossed around.
But there's something off, maybe-- because all the while there was still the "real" Jewish world in the background. Hester Street is the same, and people are running around, trying to get to market before Shabbos. Rabbis are davening in storefront shuls. I couldn't put my finger on what exactly bothered me about this duality of Jewish lives, but something did. Some sense that the author never made clear how these two worlds coexisted. The "magic" world isn't, as it is in Harry Potter, a secret. That would have made more sense to me, Instead, the mothers dashing off to market to make Shabbos before sundown KNOW about the magic world. But it isn't incorporated into their faith or practice, and it doesn't seem to make them question their faith.
I know this may seem like nitpicking, and I certainly wouldn't want this idea to keep a kid from reading and loving this book (which they will). But I wondered how the author understood the theology (not the cultural trappings, but the actual beliefs) of an orthodox Jewish world that happens to be full of magic. Jewish mysticism isn't something most Jews practice (and it wasn't on the LES at the turn of the 20th century either). I couldn't help thinking that if the average frum housewife had experience with magic and mysticism, it might have changed her life.
Also, some points of order bugged me. In the opening scene of the book, much is made about the mother needing to get to market in time for Shabbat, but then she's still out wandering around after sundown. Why she's bothered to rush from work to the market, to buy a whole herring, if she doesn't plan to go home and make dinner in time-- I'm not clear on it. I have a hard time believing that her Rabbi Brother-in-law who lives with her wouldn't be upset about this infraction. But this is minor. It just happened to be on page 3, so set off alarms of Judaism as gimmick. Though other lines, like the one about the MC "memorizing" his bar mitzvah Torah portion, also made me wonder.
I'm also a little confused about when exactly the book is set-- can't be earlier than 1913 because Roosevelt has gone to DC, but the "Pentacle" shirtwaist factory is still in business. The author has used an unusual mix of historical figures/institutions (Edison, Houdini, etc) but then a bunch of people have been reimagined (Astor has become "Astral" and the Morgan Library is the "Morgaunt." Triangle is Pentacle, etc.) I understand that this is a "parallel" world, but I'm not sure why things have to be inconsistant this way. I'm not sure what purpose it served.
Now, I've spent way too much time picking the book apart. In truth, it's a wildly fun read, but in attempting the hybrid/historical/religious novel, Moriarty kind of opened herself up for questions.
And as I'm sure she well knows, Jews tend to ask questions!
visit the official website http://www.inquisitorsapprentice.com
Paperback, 174 pages
Published 2009 by Harper Collins Publishers India ltd., New Delhi
Tiya : A Parrot's Journey Home is this little-known book that I picked up as a last-minute purchase at my favorite bookstore. I am a sucker for Alchemist type of books. Tiya sounded so similar to the Alchemist in its premise. Yet, it was different.
Samarpan or Swami Samarpananda as he is better known is a monk. And Paulo Coelho isn't. Therein lies the difference. While the Alchemist was also a fable much like Tiya is, what differentiates Tiya is the veneration of spirituality that surrounds it. Tiya is deeply metaphysical, its spirituality rooted in language simple yet so complex in its simplicity. Tiya is a parrot, not just another parrot, but one who thinks he is different. Haven't we all? He befriends a beautiful swan, Hans, (an unknown presence )who tells him there is more to him than ever will be, and urges him to seek himself.
“You are much more than what you think you are, and you can achieve much more than you are achieving now.”
Tiya sets off on a journey, a voyage of self-discovery to fantastical lands where he meets various creatures, equally fantastical. Through his interactions with them, Tiya learns to identify his own strengths and weaknesses, disseminate his ego, and understand his self. If only I can take such a journey, and find such beautiful revelations to my self! But the path wasn't easy - many times, Tiya almost came to close to losing his life. Yet he emerges - soul singed but freer for it.
Harper Collins, it appears, has not done much to promote the book. I can scarce find an Internet source credible enough apart from Samarpan' own blog. Looking back now, I wish I had read the book a little slower. Yet, there were certain allegorical descriptions that were a bit too difficult for my simple mind to fathom. There is no doubt that Samarpan has weaved in years of his Vedantic learning into creating this charming book and that effort needs to be lauded. Perhaps my cluttered mind too needs to fly, just like Tiya. Maybe then, I might really believe I am more than what I think I am, which is not much anyway. [source]
Many self-published authors don't fully realize that after their book is completed and published, they have a whole new set of objectives to meet. They aren't trying to write 2,000 words or so a day any more. Instead, they must start work on selling their book!
For many self-publishing authors, marketing their books can be a major stumbling block; others, however, seem to have a knack for it. In fact, there is a small but growing number of authors who are enjoying huge success - greater indeed than most conventionally published authors - from self-publishing.
Take the example of 26-year-old web fiction author Amanda Hocking, who has self-published nine books to date and sells approximately 100,000 copies per month according to Novelr.com. Most of her income comes from e-books sold through the Amazon Kindle store. Under Amazon's terms for Kindle authors, she keeps up to 70% of gross sales, compared with the typical 10% of net earned by most traditionally published authors.
Even more exciting for her is that Terri Tatchell, of District 9 fame, has recently optioned her trilogy for a screenplay.
So how has Hocking accomplished these amazing feats by self-publishing books such as Switched?
Well, if you read Hocking's own blog post The Epic Tale Of How It All Happened, you'll get a good idea of how she became one of the most popular web fiction authors alive. Here are some of the most important lessons from that post and others on her blog.
Select a Publishing Format
One of the keys to Hocking's success was her decision to make her books easily accessible to a lot of people through the Amazon Kindle store. By formatting her novels as e-books, she was able to price them lower than a standard hardback: $2.99, for example, versus $14.95. That, and the ubiquity of the Kindle e-readers, gave interested audiences a quick and easy way to access her writing.
Build Connections with Book Bloggers
The next thing Hocking did that helped sales take off was contact book bloggers. She says that after she contacted bloggers to start reviewing her books, "something surreal started happening. My books were selling. Like, really selling." Her sales jumped dramatically, going from 624 books for $362 in May to 4,285 books for $3,180 in June. She attributes this success to the buzz created by the bloggers.
Find a Trusted Editor
Once she could afford it, Hocking began to pay an editor to help her revise and edit her books. In fact, this is her most important tip for aspiring authors. She writes, "My biggest word of advice to any new/future writers thinking about diving into Kindle: Edit." Hocking admits it wasn't easy to find a good editor, and most of her books have been edited by a number of different people (and, she says, she still finds some mistakes when she looks at them now). Still, she believes it's crucial to ensure your books are as error-free as possible: "Some people won't care that there's errors, its true, but enough of them will. And they paid for it, so they have a right to. So edit more. And then again. Really."
Commit to the Writing Life
This is perhaps the most courageous act an aspiring author can commit. Hocking quit her day job after she had decent sales on the Kindle so that she could write full time. Doing so allowed her to produce even more work and increase those sales. In one month, she claims, she made as much as she made at her job for a year. Of course, this was after the buildup to her success, but still: quitting her job gave her the opportunity to commit fully to the writing life.
If you believe in yourself, then you should try to write as much as possible. It doesn't mean you have to quit your day job immediately, but it does mean that you may have to sacrifice other things (such as your social life!) to achieve the success you dream of in the end.
Write for an Audience
Finally, one crucial thing about Hocking is that she researches what her audience want and then tries to give it to them. If you simply write for yourself, you risk failing to find readers who share your enthusiasm. Sure, it's OK to start out that way, but you should look towards your audience for inspiration as well. It's no coincidence that Hocking started off by publishing on her blog - this gave her invaluable feedback, and helped her focus on providing the sort of reading experience her audience craved.
By-line: Mariana Ashley is a freelance writer who particularly enjoys writing about online colleges. She loves receiving reader feedback, so please do leave any comments or questions for her below.
this article is written by Mariana Ashley. [source]