Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Cyborg Imagination in the Age of Electronic Incunabula :: Research Essays Term Papers

Cyborg Imagination in the Age of Electronic Incunabula In Hamlet on the Holodeck, Janet Murray argues that we live in an age of electronic incubabula. Noting that it took fifty years after the invention of the printing press to establish the conventions of the printed book, she writes, "The garish videogames and tangled Web sites of the current digital environment are part of a similar period of technical evolution, part of a similar struggle for the conventions of coherent communication" (28). Although I disagree in various ways with her vision of where electronic narrative is going, it does seem likely that in twenty years, or fifty, certain things will be obvious about electronic narrative that those of us who are working in the field today simply do not see. Alongside the obvious drawbacks--forget marble and gilded monuments, it would be nice for a work to outlast the average Yugo--are some advantages, not the least of which is what Michael Joyce calls "the momentary advantage of our awkwardness": we have an opportunity to see our in teractions with electronic media before they become as transparent as our interactions with print media have become. The particular interaction I want to look at today is the interaction of technology and imagination. If computer media do nothing else, they surely offer the imagination new opportunities; indeed, the past ten years of electronic writing has been an era of extraordinary technical innovation. Yet this is also, again, an age of incubabula, of awkwardness. My question today is, what can we say about this awkwardness, insofar as it pertains to the interaction of technology and the imagination? Let me begin with a confession: I'm a technodummy. By "dummy" I mean the kind of person targeted by books such as IDG Books' HTML for Dummies, Javascript for Dummies, and C++ for Dummies. I notice that the series has extended past the technical fields: there is now a Dieting for Dummies, an Entertaining for Dummies, and so forth. There is not only a Dating for Dummies but also an ABRIDGED version of Dating for Dummies, which I guess is for people who want to skip the movie. There is even a book put out by Alpha Books called The Complete Idiot's Guide to Enhancing Self-Esteem, which seems to me to be carrying the concept a bit far. Anyway, I confess that, although I've never bought a "for Dummies" book, I am one of the people such books are written for, a technodummy, which is to say someone who isn't exceptionally skilled in using computers.

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