frustration

As soon as I saw Hayles' essay, I realized that I was supposed to read it online. The contents and endnotes all are hyperlinked. After five or so pages, though, my eyes cried mutiny. I much prefer reading on paper than on screen (I wonder how cultural vs. biological this is). I then read the print-out in front of the computer, which I used to access all the texts Hayles refers to. This worked for a time, but, with the sun shining merrily, I gave up and took the print-out outside.

What a disaster. I should have realized from the 108 endnotes - as well as the essay's topic - how intertextual it would be. Unable to access the essay's referents, I could make little sense of anything Hayles wrote. The only parts I can remember, even now, are the parts that refer to texts I know. I learned, the hard way, how much electronic literature can embed itself within a web of other literature. It's nearly impossible to make sense of one thing without looking at the whole.

Of course, the motivation behind this essay - to present a collection of "good stuff - also helped give it its highly intertextual form. Hayles did succeed in that respect, but I'm daunted by the vastness of the collection. Maybe given a lot more time, I could work my way through the 108 endnotes and their hyperlinks, but I simply cannot give the essay, as one part of a four part reading packet for tomorrow, the amount of time that it demands. Even though the essay remains in something of a fog to me, I did experience first-hand the different opportunities (not necessarily one that should be taken) that electronic literature offers.

Ironically, I read your post before embarking on the Hayles reading and after I had already printed it out. Fun part was, I printed itwithout all the endnotes in order to save paper (I don't usually reference footnotes anyway unless I'm doing research). So now I've been reading it blown up on the computer to maintain the integrity of the form that Hayles intended, but it's still impossible to get through all these links. I'm ending up reading it very much the same as I would read any printed article, only I'm more disoriented because there are no page numbers to reference for my notes.

I too find it impossible to read on the computer. After reading "Hypertext" I've been thinking a lot about books and our cultural view that the printed text is somehow more "natural" than the electronic text. Landon reminds us that, "Technology, in the lexicon of many humanists, generally means 'only that technology of which I am frightened.'" The book, Landon writes, is still just an arbitrary representation of orality and is not more natural than the computer.

I thought about my own preferences in regards to printed vs electronic text. I cannot write papers by hand. I like that I can type fast and copy, cut, paste and erase with a simple click. Writing by hand is tedious, but sometime tedious is what I need. I often make study guides where I rewrite all the important information from a text or from previous notes I've taken. I have to make my study guides by hand to internalize and remember the information that I'm writing. I tried to figure out why writing is easier for me to memorize than typing. I decided that it was because I could remember myself tracing the circular "o" or remember dotting an "i." It's easier to remember the letters and the words when I trace each letter than when I use a keyboard where each letter comes in the form of a centimeter sized square.

But then I thought, what makes the a I've drawn on my paper more "natural" than the square on my keyboard. Both are representations of the sound "ah," so I guess, despite relectance on my part to admit this, that someday electronic media (and electronic study guides for me personally) will be just as "natural" as the written word.

Also, the laptops that OLPC makes (the XO) are made to hold hundreds of books. The laptop screens can swivel around and lock into the back to become a reading tablet and they are built to be readable in sunlight. I wonder if they are easier to look at than my own laptop.