The e-book is changing the publishing business, but will digital technology actually change the way we tell stories, the way writers write – for better or for worse? asked The Globe and Mail July 9.
Multimedia experiments often use short texts because readers seem unlikely to tolerate long passages of type in a video or interactive environment. "Maybe the chunk is not the chapter; maybe the chunk is the paragraph, and one paragraph can lead to more, different paragraphs," says Caitlin Fisher, Canada Research Chair in Digital Culture at York University [Faculty of Fine Arts], who used that approach in her 2001 multimedia novella These Waves of Girls. "People have been figuring out how to get their message onto a single screen. It makes some writing better and some writing worse."
York's Fisher agrees that the issue is how to draw the reader through the text. "It's interesting to say maybe people would navigate your novel like a game environment," she says. "People find a game environment compelling. [But] does it always have to be a puzzle or maze? Could great writing draw you through it?... We don't have serious writers experimenting with it."
Fisher also notes how seductive video is, hoping books will not simply be replaced by some version of interactive film or augmented reality. "We have this push that all literature can become movies. Everyone can cheaply make and edit moving pictures. It is pushing out interesting experiments in writing."
"I'd be happy to purchase an $80 electronic novel that promised to take me places I hadn't been before, but it's a hard sell," says Fisher, who wants to see writers making technology work for them rather than technology shaping the form. "It is crucial writers be there asking what kind of tools might be useful...and not just accept what computer science hands them."
Posted by Arielle Zomer, research communications officer, with files courtesy of YFile– York University’s daily e-bulletin.