RE: [-empyre-] Re:hello to empyre

> I was  trying to be provocative here to arouse some discussion!  I was
> somewhat tongue in cheek, and obviously the  notion of the 'good writer'
> begs many questions, since this is a changing category.

Hi Hazel,

Sure, I understand. I wasn't disagreeing with what you said, just exploring it further. You
acknowledge the complexity of the issues, as I try to also.

> I was simply
> trying to say that in order to produce something really interesting in the
> area of new media writing you have to be extraordinarily creative with
> language and extraordinarily good technically, and there are not many
> people yet  who have both types of expertise.

Being skilled technically is often a plus, certainly, namely when the project demands such
skills. There are those who steer away from projects that demand such skills, and these have a
'batting average' probably no better or worse than projects that demand technical skills. They
might well say that it isn't the case no technical skills are required for their projects, but
the technical skills are involved not in mastering software tech so much as writing tech (and
context), given that writing is quite a collection of technologies. Language itself is a
technology if we think of technologies as tools made individually or collectively by people. And
they might point out that technique is endless--at some point it comes down to the relevance and
importance of what you have to say, or at least that's a huge part of the value of any
particular work of art, however it is said. We have all seen work that is strong technically but
does not seem consequential as art.

Also, artists who steer away from programming and so on have the advantage of appealing to the
vast majority of artists who also do not have technical skills, and they draw many of these
people into a participatory art that the technically skilled have little company in. I would not
want to maintain that you have to be a programmer or a great designer to do consequential new
media art. I don't think it's true. I look at the work of Mez or Alan Sondheim, for instance,
and acknowledge its importance. One might add that they are not exactly bumpkins, either, in new
media, are very skilled both as writers and artists in new media, but in (mainly) different
areas than are normally considered 'technical'. To be an interesting writer in new media,
whether it is as a 'web.artist' or a 'net.artist', however, does require technical skill, but in
sometimes different skills. How does meaning and consequence and community propagate through the
net? They have this cased rather admirably, for instance, to say nothing of the technical skill
in the writing itself. Email is something we spend at least as much time with, undoubtedly more,
than viewing works on the Web. And email is almost completely textual, so writers take to it
with enthusiasm. To take to it artistically is a bit different, though, and Mez and Alan
Sondheim excel at this.

> A lot of people who have a
> great feel for language and are excited by the new media may just not have
> the technical expertise required for new media writing,  though they may be
> able to get over that hurdle through collaboration.

Yes, collaboration can be a beautiful thing.

> New media writers
> often have professional training in computing which at the moment gives
> them a big advantage, and means they are the ones who are likely to make
> the running, though this will cease to be the case as people grow up with
> computers and automatically acquire that technical background.

Yes, training in computing is certainly on the rise and also a general literacy in new media via
the growing ubiquity of the Net/Web in peoples' lives. Also, tools keep emerging that allow
easier programming.

> I certainly don't think that work that reads well on the page is likely to
> read well without transformaation as a new media text, and I agree that
> writers have to shift considerably to the demands of the medium. The medium
> is everything.

Right, well, I'm sure you would agree that it isn't everything. There's us and our human
concerns and our concern for one another and the world. But to be able to communicate these
concerns forcefully, yes, one has to 'take on' the machine as a part of oneself even as one
'takes it on' oppositionally, in some senses. Your statement that "the medium is everything" is
like McLuhan's statement that "the medium is the message"; I presume the intent of both is to
correct an imbalance rather than maintain that there is nothing else going on. So, again, we are
not disagreeing but extending the conversation.

I would like to add, Hazel, that I appreciate your efforts with Inflect to explore further and
deeper what it means to be a writer.


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