Re: [-empyre-] Sue Thomas - introduction

<<(I was interested to read Marcus's definition: "Digital Writing
is the inscribing of characters on an Interface".)>>
this was Wikipedia remixed ;p

On 10/4/05, Sue Thomas <> wrote:
> Hello everyone, and thanks for inviting me to be part of this fascinating
> series of conversations. We've been asked to discuss "whether the concept of
> writing is still adequate to describe the most eloquent examples of creative
> processes involving words and digital media."
> I'd like to begin by outlining my own experience of writing so it's clear
> where I'm coming from. It's possible that those on the list who know my name
> will connect it with the trAce Online Writing Centre
> which I founded in 1995, with the help of Simon Mills, and of which I was
> Artistic Director until this year. You may not be aware, however, that for
> the most part, my own writing has appeared in conventional print format. I
> have published two novels, 'Correspondence' (1992) and 'Water' (1994); a
> 'Handbook for Creative Writing Teachers'; an edited  anthology 'Wild Women'
> (1994) a collection of contemporary writing by women related to Clarissa
> Pinkola Estes' study ''Women Who Run With The Wolves', and most recently a
> personal travelogue/memoir of wired life 'Hello World: travels in
> virtuality' (2004). I've also published quite a few short stories, essays
> and articles, and I'm currently working on a book about nature and
> cyberspace.
> It may seem odd that such a print-based writer should be the driving force
> behind trAce but the reason for that is quite simple: I am interested in
> online community and the way we live with computers, and when trAce began we
> had no specific intention to work with digital writing. What most fascinated
> us was the cultural phenomenon of writers working together online, and then
> as time went on, a part of that community responded to the digital by
> producing new media writing.
> My personal experience of writing in the digital focussed for several years
> on LambdaMOO telnet:// and MOO-based writing in
> general, because I was intrigued by a world made out of text. I did make an
> early piece of hypertext, very clunky (!) but still viewable - Revolver
> (1997)  - but really my personal
> interest has always been more towards plain text than multimedia, more about
> what happens on the internet rather than how it is inscribed upon. (This
> essay 'Walter Ong and the Problem of Writing about LambdaMOO' has more on
> this )
> But in relation to the reason we are here this month, I would like to think
> about what writing actually is. Wikipedia says: "Writing may refer to two
> activities: the inscribing of characters on a medium, with the intention of
> forming words and other constructs that represent language or record
> information, and the creation of material to be conveyed through written
> language." (I was interested to read Marcus's definition: "Digital Writing
> is the inscribing of characters on an Interface".)
> In 'Walden' (1854) Henry David Thoreau describes a Canadian woodchopper who
> occasionally passes by his cabin:  "He particularly reverenced the writer
> and the preacher.  Their performances were miracles.  When I told him that I
> wrote considerably, he thought for a long time that it was merely the
> handwriting which I meant, for he could write a remarkably good hand
> himself.  I sometimes found the name of his native parish handsomely written
> in the snow by the highway, with the proper French accent, and knew that he
> had passed.  I asked him if he ever wished to write his thoughts.  He said
> that he had read and written letters for those who could not, but he never
> tried to write thoughts..."
> The writing in the snow is what Wikipedia would categorise as inscription,
> making an image which represents or records information, whereas what
> Thoreau calls 'writing thoughts' is a process of creation which involves
> translating an idea or an experience into text or, as Ted Nelson said 150
> years later, "text is the self-portrait of human thought'. For this, one
> needs no images, only plain text. The intricacy is in the language alone.
> So I would like to ask whether this conversation around 'writing' is to be
> about thoughts, or inscriptions on the digital snow, or both?
> Best
> Sue Thomas
> Sources:
> Thoreau, H.D. 1854, 'Walden'
> Ted Nelson quote from Tonfoni, G. 1994, 'Writing as Visual Art'
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum

This archive was generated by a fusion of Pipermail 0.09 (Mailman edition) and MHonArc 2.6.8.