This post is a replica of today’s post over at OpenBook Toronto.
Today marks the launch date of the Electronic Literature Collection, Volume 2: http://collection.eliterature.org/2/ This is an elegantly curated collection of eliterature, a great starting point for anyone interested in the way the new technologies can be used to tell stories.
Over the past decade, I’ve effectively had my feet in two quite separate camps when it comes to writing and reading. As well as writing, publishing, and editing novels and short stories, I’ve also been involved with creating and publishing works of digital fiction online. By ‘digital fiction’ I mean works of fiction that depend upon the computer to exist, works that blend text with other media, including images, sounds, music, animation, video, and games; by ‘digital fiction’ I don’t mean ebooks, or enhanced ebooks, or books-as-apps. While works of digital fiction are increasingly high profile and popular, the two worlds – traditional publishing and digital fiction – remain remarkably immune to each other’s charms.
Two of the most high profile works of digital fiction I’m involved with – both of which are ongoing projects, and both of which are included in ELC2 – are Inanimate Alice and Flight Paths: A Networked Novel. ‘Inanimate Alice’ is the story of Alice, a girl who wants to be a games designer when she grows up; in the existing four episodes (six more are planned), the level of interactivity in the story increases as Alice’s own skills as a game designer increase. ‘Flight Paths’ is the story of what happens when two lives – a Pakistani man who has stowed away on an airplane, and a London woman – collide rather dramatically in the parking lot of a supermarket.
‘Inanimate Alice’ is used in schools and universities around the world as a tool for teaching both digital literacy and new ways of telling stories using the new technologies. There’s a very active international pedagogical community around the stories; if you are interested in this, the best way to find out what’s going on is to join the ‘Inanimate Alice’ Facebook group http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/InanimateAlice or to follow @inanimatealice on twitter.
I’m passionate about the possiblities for literature in the digital age. We live in a time of great change – the way we read is changing, the way we write is changing, literature itself is changing. But our deep need for stories will never go away.