Thursday, September 13, 2007

Online reading versus print

I am reading a fascinating article discussing the differences students find in reading print as opposed to online documents. Debra Moss Curtis and Judith R. Karp, IN A CASE, ON THE SCREEN, DO THEY REMEMBER WHAT THEY'VE SEEN? CRITICAL ELECTRONIC READING IN THE LAW CLASSROOM, 30 Hamline Law Rev. 247 - 284 (Spring, 2007). They discuss things like screen flicker, scroll, speed of reading. But what really got me excited for a poetry application was their discussion of hyptext links. In print, readers pretty much have to follow the linear path laid out by an author or editor. Using hypertext links, however, makes it easy for each reader to follow a different path, hopping around in text or outside and back in. Poetry has always depended so much on the linear structure. What would happen with poetry that allowed the reader to dip in and out, skip around in any order? Would it even be poetry any more?

I have seen experimental poems (see Wordoku by Chris Tiefel, and the poetry cube - at Treefull, again, Chris Tiefel, who also plays with laying words on the screen or paper in orders that don't make clear what path the eye is to follow (see Pen Pal Seasons Winter. Very cool poem artifacts. But I haven't seen anybody do poetry with hyperlinks. What would that be like? Would it even be a poem? Poems are about the language creating images and conveying emotions, ideas and textures. I don't know if you can do that when the hyperlink activity is between the poet and the reader. I am interested in relationships between authors and readers. Hmm.

I have been working on an art/poem. When I was a child, one of my greatest delights was a "suprise ball." These consisted of crepe paper in many colors, wrapped around and and around to form a layered ball. In different layers, you would find tiny toys, very cheap and small. The pleasure was not in the toys, but the activity of unwrapping the ball, the sensuality of colors and texture, and the surprises as you went down, layer by layer. I am making a fake surprise ball, and considering how to lay the poem into the ball. Either I can have strips of crepe paper lift up with the poem written underneath or on the bottom of the strip. Or I can create a strip that pulls out of a slot and has the poem on the strip (of course, you have the difficulty of getting the strip to go back in).


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