Digital Lit: Some Directions

xposted at Frontline Books

I've been writing about digital works for 8 posts now and I've been receiving e-mails from readers wondering how I find these pieces. With this in mind, today's post will provide a backdrop the conversations that have been appearing here.

For me, digital works must be…erm um…digital (go figure). But, for me, I am more drawn to works that appear on the web so that they offer some kind of connectivity or are at least situated within a wider realm. CD-based poetics or hypertext or games may be no less narrative but, to me, they may not offer quite the same possibilities especially in terms of linking *out.*

Here is a selection of some of my favourites:

Dreaming Methods: Their tag line says it all –  “Writing Fused with New Media.” See especially their Journal of Dreams 



Dark Zoo:  “a new form of novel – one that can only be achieved using the Web. Here you can click to read a multi-viewpoint novel or choose to read the same story from the point of view of one of the main characters. At any point you can switch back and forth between viewpoints to pick up different aspects of the story. This gives more than simply another viewpoint, for there are sub-plots that are only exposed in the character views. Even so, each of the views is a complete story unto itself.”


Adrienne Eisen’s 6 Sex Scenes is an interesting read.

 Alicia Felber’s Holes – a take on Sadie Plant’s Zeros and Ones





Angie Eng’s Empty Velocity – part art, part narrative, part game.

 Carolyn Guertin writes about “Machine Dreams and Webbed Arts: Urban Process in Subtextual Circulation


Christy Sheffield Sanford’s Red Mona 





Donna Leishman’s urban intepretation of a fairytale: “Red Riding Hood” (listen out for the incredible audio).  

 Jody Zellen’s hypertextual spatialization: “Ghost City




Judy Malloy’s Uncle Roger – the first online fiction (1986)

Kate Pullinger and Babel have created an excellent example of a narrative holding its own alongside a plethora of multimodal devices such as sound, image, video, and user interaction: Inanimate Alice.


 Mark Amerika’s well known Grammatron

M.D. Coverley’s Fibonacci’s Daughter (an oldie but a goodie – especially if you like solving puzzles)

Stephanie Strickland’s gorgeously poetic Ballad of Sand and Harry Soot.  















Carolyn Guertin took it upon herself to document links she discovered thereby creating “Assemblage: The Women’s New Media Gallery

Hermenia – a collection of links to online stories (though mostly text-based)

Hyperizons began listing hypertext fiction in 1996 and seems like it was last updated in July 1997. Still, it includes some “classic” works – 12 blue:  

 The ELO (Electronic Literature Organization) released a CD-anthology (Volume 1) of various digital works that exist on the web. The collection was published simultaneously on the web and as a cd. 

 Fray is “currently on hiatus” but includes some interesting offerings like joshuatreeblooms:


The New River Journal is “devoted exclusively to digital writing and art.”


              Tech Head Stories has links to various sites that document digital stories.


trAced Links: Hypertext Resources  

Word Circuits – does what it says on the tin.



So, what’s your idea of a good digital story?


8 thoughts on “Digital Lit: Some Directions

  1. Jess, this is a great post. I think it would be a good idea to create a list of “sticky” posts towards the stop of the sidebar; e.g. a definition of transliteracy post, this post and so on.
    My interest is in “scholarly digital media” for want of a better term; e.g. the work of David Kolb, Coover’s ethnography, Biella’s work and so on. They tend to be less web accessible on the whole but I’ll put together a post about it next week. Transliteracy is, of course, not just a word for a digital literature but of course digital literacy is a part of it and the academy has, if anything, had more trouble engaging with digital media than fiction.
    Relatedly, I would add Inanimate Alice into your list ( May not be finished yet but that adds to the interest. I’ve shown a fair few of the sites you mention to people over the last couple of years but Inanimate Alice is always the one that grabs their attention quickest. It does feel a bit like self-promotion for the transliteracy group (Hi Kate and Chris!) but I do get the impression that they’re working on something that has an appeal beyond the niche audience of digital literature enthusiasts.

  2. Thanks Bruce! At the risk of further self-promotion, I think IA’s appeal beyond the niche audience is exactly why it has succeeded. Particularly, as was pointed out last week by Angela A. Thomas, it is very suitable for children, which a lot of digital literature is not – at least, self-conscious digital lit, as opposed to the mass of educationally-focussed materials that do exist out there for children.

  3. Gareth, thanks for your suggestions. I like the idea on Eyes of Laura that we can access her live web cam – it makes the narrative seem that much more “real-time.”

  4. Bruce,
    (darn – explorer crashed so now my scholarly response is doomed to ethereality…)
    Glad you liked the post but let me just clarify, you don’t need to add Inanimate Alice to the list, it’s there between Judy Malloy and Mark Amerika.
    An aspect that (I think) adds to Inanimate Alice’s appeal is it’s ability to sit within an educational environment. It’s a story that can work in elementary classrooms but it can also appear on university syllabi. I know in my experience of undergrad. teaching, Inanimate Alice was the one students warmed to because of the visible/tangible *story* and also, as Chris says, because it isn’t self-conscious in it’s suitability for a younger audience.

  5. I was so excited – thought we had another comment here but it’s just spam?!! Maybe it’s transliterate spam?

  6. Sorry Jess, I think I must have been busy deleting the spam even as you wrote your comment about it. Another case of cyberspace folding in on itself?

  7. Now I’ll have to write up my own spam in the comments! There have been a few more spam comments since then…I wonder what attracts spambots to this post in particular?

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