Interactivity is not a dirty word

Choose Your Own AdventureReading is often claimed as the first victim of technology. Various contemporary causes are said to be at fault: screens are too bright to read on, ebook readers don’t smell or feel like books and social media is ever- present, threatening to disrupt our reading online. But this claim implies a reading experience that cannot be interrupted – a solitary aesthetic experience. Reading is an experience you can have even when surrounded by others, but the act is thought to have only ever occurred between you and the text.
Continue reading “Interactivity is not a dirty word”

If William Blake were going to make a poetry ebook

William BlakeSomeone once told me that the direction that written languages follow – left to right, right to left, top to bottom – was due to the tools that influenced their development. I remember the anecdote more than the teller, but, basically, Hebrew is right to left because right-handed people hold the chisel in their left hand and hammer in their right. By contrast, East Asian scripts evolved from the way a brush is held between the fingers in the right hand, and European scripts relied on tools that encouraged right to left. It’s a simple technological determinist reason – but is it true? Continue reading “If William Blake were going to make a poetry ebook”

I was a teenage zombie

ZorkAs a child of the ’80s my interests coincided with the high points of the decade’s nerdiness: Dungeons & Dragons, Choose Your Own Adventures and text adventure games. In text adventure games, most famously Zork, the player would interact with the game by typing out commands like ‘north’ (or just ‘n’) to go north, ‘examine’ objects, ‘look’ to view their environment, ‘give’ and sometimes ‘kill’. Sometimes this led to disagreements with the computer where rather than comply it would return with ‘I don’t know that word’ or ‘Too many noun clauses’.
Continue reading “I was a teenage zombie”