Author Archives: Alysha R

The Verdict on Electronic Literature

Electronic literature has been around for the past couple decades but it continues to remain relatively unknown. In the simplest form it is literature that originates in a digital environment. Hypertext fiction, interactive fiction, installation pieces, generative art and Flash poetry are among the many types of work which make up this category of literature. It seems to be a largely unexplored strand of literature that hasn’t seemed to take off. In the world we live in today, technology advances at such a rapid pace. In fact, in many cases it advances before certain pieces become widespread and available. Electronic literature producers and the organization just don’t have enough support, resources, money or man-power to update and remain dynamic and cutting edge in the ever-changing technological world. Not only does it have trouble keeping up, it is almost entirely overshadowed by more advanced technology. Professionally produced video and computer games are much more aesthetically and interactively pleasing to the general public. The appeal to engage in these pieces is far more alluring than that of electronic literature. E-lit can’t seem to compete with print either. There seems to be a type of nostalgia surrounding traditional print. Readers enjoy having their own concrete library of print books. In addition to these books having a solid, effective system of archiving, there is just a comfort around the physical tangibility of novels running right down to the feel of it in the reader’s hands. Especially coming from a print-based background for the consumption of literature, readers face many difficulties in consuming e-lit. Frustrations such as not being able to “turn the page” in their own time for example, create feelings among many readers of automatic rejection. Many of these readers are unlikely to continue exploring electronic literature unless prompted to for reasons such as class requirements. Overall, electronic literature just can’t seem to compete with the giant electronic gaming companies or print-based literature. This has placed the branch in a stifling position with little room to successfully expand and appeal to the masses. Although there were vibrant and exciting intentions in breaking literary production into the electronic world, it seems to be a creative dead-end.

-Alysha Rohla

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ELC Review 2- Urbanalities

Urbanalities is a non-interactive piece of electronic literature depicting the nature of urban life. Authors Babel and Escha take an antagonistic view which touches on major issues of urbanization including, discrimination, stresses of everyday living, life on the streets, loose morals, and consumerism. Each of these issues is poetically illustrated throughout eight separate scenes that are just absorbed as would a movie or television show. Urbanalities is set up like a comic strip with the addition of movement and sound. It makes you think twice about the developed world.

Urbanalities is an engaging piece from start to finish. It’s made appealing through the use of bold colours and images as well as a soundtrack that is appropriate and ties in seamlessly with the piece. Each scene describes a different issue, and with that a different vibe that many urban dwellers can relate to or have witnessed. Unlike many of the other non-interactive pieces of the ELC1, Urbanalities is easy enough to understand and successfully maintains the attention of the viewer.

Along with the positive aspects of urbanization, come many downfalls which are highlighted in this piece using the bold colours, images and sound mentioned above. It forces the individual to re-access their own life with regards to the major downfalls and raises questions such as “Am I contributing to these problems?” and “What can I do to stop this?”. After engaging in this piece, the viewer feels encouraged to slow down and not get caught up in all these pitfalls of urban life.

Urbanalities is well put together, bold, clear and memorable. When compared to man of the other pieces, Urbanalities gets its’ message across clear to the viewer. It seems professionally put together and is therefore more interesting to the viewer. The print moves quickly but it repeats to connect the idea. Another great feature of the piece is the bar at the top of the screen which allows the viewer to backtrack at their own discretion. The only issue that the viewer may have with this piece is that it’s quite lengthy, and with no pause button their attention needs to remain on the screen for the full ten minutes.

Overall this is a very entertaining piece of electronic literature. The authors’ antagonistic views on urban living come across in a very engaging medium. It’s not very often that we as a society are forced to sit back and really contemplate how we live. Urbanalities effectively embodies the problems of modern, urban society in a bold, entertaining and thought-provoking format which keeps the viewer engaged from beginning to end.

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ELC Review- Keyword: “Games”

 The Electronic Literature Collection has been divided up into keywords for easy navigation. Under the keyword, “Games” falls seven different pieces; some of which do the keyword justice and some that fall short. Digital gaming is broad sector consisting of video, arcade and computer games; a category too broad to place the pieces of this keyword under. Even if we place it under the category of computer games, it still doesn’t really live up to the expectations of a computer game. The aim of the pieces in this keyword is to use text and interactivity (Taking advantage of the computer input devices) to convey a message or a story to the reader.

A computer game should be able to keep an individual engaged. Using tasks that lead up to a goal, points, rankings, etc. the gamer should remain entertained. Many of the games in the ELC are dynamic in the sense that they have the potential to be different each time they are played. However, many of the games were too difficult to understand because the instructions were too broad and there were not clear guidelines. For many of the more complicated ones I just gave up (Ex. Jean-Pierre Balpe ou les Lettres Dérangées). Also, in a few of them there was no real “Right” or “Wrong” therefore there was no indication or incentive to the gamer on how well they were doing. The issue of accessibility was also a problem. Numerous games require complicated downloads (All Roads, Bad Machine, and Savoir-Faire ) which many people wouldn’t want to accept for the risk of their computer being harmed by potential viruses.

There is a lot of potential under the keyword “Games” for the pieces to be engaging, entertaining and enticing to modern generations considering the widespread interest and consummation of digital gaming. On the other hand, in the couple cases of games under this keyword that I actually liked (Stud Poetry, for example), I don’t think had much literary value. In the case of the ELC, I don’t think digital gaming and literature seem to mesh well. A gain in one of those elements seems to be a loss in the other. All-in-all, I’d rather just read a novel or a poem and play my digital games separately. Besides Stud Poetry (Which took up about four hours of my Saturday afternoon) and carrier (becoming symborg), I wasn’t engaged by the pieces under this category in the ELC and I can’t say I’d recommend them. Using the keyword “Games” to classify these pieces gives the individual a misguided preconception with high standards that aren’t fufilled.

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Brave New World: In Review

From the very beginning of, “Brave New World” author, Aldous Huxley captivates the reader with his enticing plot line and subject matter. The story begins in a Hatchery for humans in the year, 2540 a.d, where society has developed a way of producing and “conditioning” humans in laboratories to acquire specific intellectual and physical levels as well as programming morals and removing strong emotions. There is no such thing as aging due to the affects of a drug, “Soma” which is also used to stimulate “Happiness”. Bernard Marx is different from the others, he wants to get away from this society and witness a different way of life. On a trip to the Savage Reservation where life is simpler and everyone lives life freely, he meets an intriguing mother and her son. Bernard returns with them to the “Brave New World”, a decision which causes fate to fall down upon them. 

Throughout the book, the reader becomes engaged in the story by Huxley’s strong use of descriptive language. For example, at the beginning of the book, Huxley creates a strong, sensory image of the hatchery by vividly describing colours and texture like, “Pale corpse-coloured rubber” and “Yellow barrels of… a rich and living substance, lying along the polished tubes like butter.” The type of language Huxley uses consumes the reader with sounds and images that are roll over the tongue and ease into the mind.

 Even though this is a science-fiction novel, readers of the general public can enjoy and relate their own society to Huxley’s novel. Regardless of the fact that it was first published in 1932, it still manages to remain current and relatable to this day. Many of Huxley’s frightening predictions of a futuristic society have become true already. His unique perspective encourages the thought that the rest could, including the removal of all personal liberties, which is uncomfortable but intriguing to the reader. Another current issue in society that’s touched on in this book is the media and their effect on people in the public eye. Huxley’s concepts of society make the reader uncomfortable but entice them to keep reading.

Huxley writes in a fluid and relaxed, but concise style. “Brave New World” is written in clear font with appropriate spacing. It is in third person narrative which allows the reader to feel as one with the story. Another captivating feature is the character development throughout the story, “Bernard Marx…[and] Mustapha Mond” are just a couple of the interestingly named and dynamic characters interacting in the novel. In addition to a humorously sarcastic undertone, this book makes for an exciting and enchanting read.

Overall, “Brave New World” is an intelligently written book that continues to successfully adapt to modern society years after it was written. Its’ coherent and riveting plotline (Including an appeasing ending) keep the reader engaged in the material. I enjoyed this book and the issues affecting our world today that it raises for discussion. I recommend it to science-fiction fans, people concerned with society and civil liberties, as well as any fiction readers looking for something unique and thought-provoking.

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Why read?

The question of, “Why read?” has popped up in many people’s thoughts from time to time, especially when they are forced to do it. Perhaps the following reasons will motivate these people and assure them there is a purpose even if the material isn’t entertaining. Firstly, it will allow one to become a better reader. Reading is one of the most important life skills. People who are unable to read, or cannot read very well have little chance of being successful in life. The only way to improve reading skills is to read more! Secondly, it boosts the reader with more knowledge. Reading newspapers, books, magazines, and so on allows the individual to become a more intelligent person. From studies in school to current events, reading keeps the individual informed, educated and up to date. It also allows the individual to understand how to write well and gives them examples of what good writing looks and sounds like. Reading, along with experience inspires writing. Additionally, it strengthens the individual’s vocabulary. Expanding and challenging one’s horizon in literature allows them to become a better reader and tackle more ambitious material, therefore expanding their own variety in word choices as they increase on the level of literature they consume. Finally, reading shapes one to be a better all-around person. Morals and lessons in anything from children’s stories, newspapers or magazine articles, all the way up to advanced novels teach the reader important life lessons and just how to be a good person in general. They allow the reader to become a well rounded, personable individual who can communicate well. These concrete reasons to read may make one feel better about being forced to read a piece they don’t necessarily enjoy, but hopefully each reader continues of their own accord because there are pieces out there that naturally entice oneself to consume literature.

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