Hypernarrative In the Age of the WebEdit

Portions of this paper were originally published in 1998 in NEA - Art Forms on the National Endowment for the Arts website, last edited: April 3, 2007 -

A nice overview of what the author defines as hypernarrative as well as discussing examples of projects. There are some nice phrases and descriptions of what this form of literature looks like as well as it's future.

from source[1] " hypernarrative, its definition as open-ended as the many-faceted reading experience it engenders, is a primary way of storytelling in the era of the World Wide Web. Making the contrast between interactive fiction, a term generally used for works with a branching structure where the reader continually makes choices between sequential plot paths, I called my hypertext narrative a "narrabase" (for narrative database) when I wrote Uncle Roger in 1986. I thought of this work as a "pool of information into which the reader plunges repeatedly, emerging with a cumulative and individual build up levels of meaning and to show many aspects of the story and characters, rather than as a means of providing alternate plot turns and endings." [1] I now use what has become the commonly accepted terminology -- "hyperfiction", "hypertext fiction" or "hypernarrative" -- to describe my work.

"....hypertext fiction offers narratives that operate as networks rather than linear sequences," Katherine Hayles writes in her introduction to Technocriticism and Hypernarrative. [2]

"I wanted, quite simply, to write a novel that would change in successive readings and to make those changing versions according to the connections that I had for some time naturally discovered in the process of writing and that I wanted my readers to share," Michael Joyce wrote about his hyperfiction afternoon, a story. [3]

Public Literature: Narratives and Narrative Structures in Lambda MOOEdit

Published in Art and Innovation - The Xerox PARC Artist-in-Residence Program Edited by Craig Harris. Cambridge, MA MIT Press, 1999.


Beginning in 1993, as part of my residency at Xerox PARC, I worked with words in LambdaMoo, a text based social virtual reality site, created at Xerox PARC by Pavel Curtis, that runs LamdbaMoo code and is publically accessible on the Internet. Investigating the narrative variety inherent in Moos (MUD's object oriented), I created three different narratives: The Ocatillo Files, Brown House Kitchen, and Deep Creek School. The Ocatillo Files was an ephemeral performative narrative that examined role playing and story telling in the heart of this virtual community - the LambdaMOO living room. Brown House Kitchen is a exploratory collaboratively experienced narrative in which text is disclosed by programed objects. Deep Creek School is a collaboratively created model of an alternative art school.

From Narrabase to Hyperfiction: Uncle Roger Edit

Some portions of this paper were originally published in Leonardo, vol 24, No 2 pp 195-202, 1991

Abstract: The computer (with its ability to store and retrieve information in ways that mimic the human mind more closely than sequential book-based narratives) can invigorate, expand and enrich traditional narrative forms. Uncle Roger, a "narrabase" or narrative database, was first told, beginning in 1986, as an online serial on Art Com Electronic Network (ACEN) and then was published as an interactive online database on ACEN. It was also available as computer software for both Apple II and IBM compatible computers.

The narrabase form, which uses a computer database to build up levels of meaning, evolved from the conjunction of my artists books and information art. The development of Uncle Roger culminated in what is now called hyperfiction but was arrived at by a process independent of the work of Ted Nelson.(work which I was not familiar with at the time) Basically, the keyworded database structure was similar to hypertextual linking, although at that time, I did not think of it in that way. Subsequent to my creation of Uncle Roger, the arrival of the hyperfiction school of work (Michael Joyce, Martha Petry, Stuart Moulthrop, Carolyn Guyer, published by Mark Bernstein at Eastgate, who became my publisher beginning with the publication of the Eastgate version of its name was Penelope) changed the terminology that I used to describe my work. In the early 1990's, the arrival of the World Wide Web, shaped by Tim Berners-Lee's hypertextual thinking, provided a platform into which I began to build more recent works.


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