The assignment is intended to generate discussion of the capabilities of digital and print media: what can one do in print that cannot be done digitally, and what can one do in digital media which cannot be done in print? The final product of the assignment is a digital essay, composed using fairly basic HTML (Netscape Composer or similar). The assignment assumes that students have already written at least one standard (print) essay. In practice, the students who produced the sample projects presented elsewhere in this issue of *English Matters* had also written one digital essay as part of the CAS 101 EDiT plug-in course (now ENGL 209). The plug-in gave the students the technical skills needed to create a digital text. Resources are also available from STAR; several students made use of their facilities and training.
This assignment is intended to create a text which relies upon, not merely uses, digital media. I asked the students to create a text which could only be presented electronically.
The process of developing such an essay is multipart: the assignment involves reading various texts (including traditional print, electronic versions of print, and hypertexts); discussing the differences between the various media, and how these difference affect both reading and writing; and finally composing an essay using electronic media.
Some specific "sets" of texts
Then go online and compare "Colossal Cave" to "Hejirascope"
How do print texts
differ from Interactive fiction and hypertexts?
How do the e-texts
differ from the hypertexts?
How do these differences
affect the ways in which you can read these texts?
After the students have discussed the various print, e-, and hypertexts, the final assignment of the module is to write a hypertext essay which uses the digital media integrally. That is, the hypertext essay should rely upon, not merely use, hypertext. (The e-texts can be used an examples of texts which merely use digital media.)
The primary guidance
I gave my students is that the final text should not be printer friendly;
if I can print it out, read it, and not miss anything, then the essay
is not relying upon digital media.
Electronic Poetry Center
Poetry at the EPC
Visual and Sound poetry
Web-Based Interactive Fiction at Yahoo
Fiction Online Archive