[-empyre-] Jim's post

Hi Jim

I don't really have a problem with what you have to say here.

I admire the work of mez and others too!! There are certainly really
interesting new media writers around,  but the numbers are still very
small, that was my point.

I agree that you don't necessarily have to be a great programmer to produce
something interesting.  However the new directions in new media writing may
be  more likely to  come from people with considerable technical
sophistication or from writers who collaborate with such people!  It's all
relative though and depends what you mean by technical sophistication.

This is  a changing situation anyway, and I suppose the most important
thing is that we all retain open mindedness about what is being produced.
Personally  I am interested in working and reading across several media
from print to performance to new media, and allowing each to inform the


>> 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.
>empyre forum

Dr. Hazel Smith
Senior Research Fellow
School of Creative Communication
Deputy Director
University of Canberra Centre for Writing
Editor of Inflect http://www.ce.canberra.edu.au/inflect
University of Canberra
ACT 2601
phone 6201 5940
More about my creative work at

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