Seven years ago, the Electronic Literature Organization was founded “to promote and facilitate the writing, publishing, and reading of electronic literature.” Yesterday marked a major milestone in the pursuit of the “reading” portion of this mission as ELO released the first volume of the Electronic Literature Collection, a wide-ranging anthology of 60 digital literary texts in a variety of styles and formats, from hypertext to Flash poetry. Now, for the first time, all are made easily accessible over the web or on a free CD-ROM, both published under a Creative Commons license.
The contents — selected by N. Katherine Hayles, Nick Montfort, Scott Rettberg and Stephanie Strickland — range from 1994 to the present, but are stacked pretty heavily on this side of Y2K. Perhaps this is due to the difficulty of converting older formats to the web, or rights difficulties with electronic publishers like Eastgate. Regardless, this is a valuable contribution and ELO is to be commended for making such a conscious effort to reach out to educators (they’ll send a free CD to anyone who wants to teach this stuff in a class). Hopefully volume two will delve deeper into the early days of hypertext.
This outreach effort in some ways implicitly acknowledges that this sort of literature never really found a wider audience, (unless you consider video games to be the new literature, in which case you might have a bone to pick with this anthology). Arguments have raged over why this is so, looking variously to the perishability of formats in a culture of constant system upgrades to more conceptual concerns about non-linear narrative. But whether e-literature fan or skeptic, this new collection should be welcomed as a gift. Bringing these texts back into the light will hopefully help to ground conversations about electronic reading and writing, and may inspire new phases of experimentation.
ebr is back after a several month hiatus during which time it was overhauled. The site, published by AltX was among the first places where the “technorati meets the literati” and I always found it attractive for its emphasis on sustained analysis of digital artifacts and the occasional pop culture reference. The latest project, first person series, seems to answer a lot of what bob finds attractive in the blogs of juan cole and others. And although I’ve heard ebr called “too linear” (as compared to Vectors, USC’s e-journal) the interface goes a long way toward solving the problem of the scrolling feature of many sites/blogs which privilege what’s new. The interweaving threads with search capabilities seem quite hearty.
The Electronic Literature Organization seeks submissions for the first Electronic Literature Collection. We invite the submission of literary works that take advantage of the capabilities and contexts provided by the computer. Works will be accepted until January 31, 2006. Up to three works per author will be considered.
The Electronic Literature Collection will be an annual publication of current and older electronic literature in a form suitable for individual, public library, and classroom use. The publication will be made available both online, where it will be available for download for free, and as a packaged, cross-platform CD-ROM, in a case appropriate for library processing, marking, and distribution. The contents of the Collection will be offered under a Creative Commons license so that libraries and educational institutions will be allowed to duplicate and install works and individuals will be free to share the disc with others.
The editorial collective for the first volume of the Electronic Literature Collection, to be published in 2006, is:
N. Katherine Hayles
Go here for full submission guidelines.