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Returnability Updated Thursday, 29 October 1998

SIGNIFICANCE OF STUDY

 

Some areas of study which will benefit from this study

How others can use it.

Children's literature

 Creativity, group dialogue

Textual reactivity (how and where the reader situates themselves in narrative choices)

Awareness of how choices are made.

Sociology

 Group dynamics, collaborative and interactive societies

Philosophy

 Reformulation of the Self through non-linearly readings

Journalism

 Changing the way journalism is structured. Making an online journal

Gender study

 Losing gender tags and opening dialogue without knowing the gender of the creator.

Multimedia

Sharing one's creativity

Semiotics

 Reading the structure of links.

 

Many disciplines will benefit from a study on how the Internet influences literature. Literature is at the centre of the meaning we give to whom we are. It will become more important to understand our narratives and dialogues when we have tools such as the Internet to disseminate these stories. Every field of study is effected, and each area is worthy of research. To illustrate this I will touch upon a few areas where research of the Internet's influences will benefit.

An example of children's collaborative hypertext fiction is What is an outlaw? (http://www.headland.co.uk/day-in-the-life/pt12/index.html) In this collaboration a group of 9-13-year-old writers have produced a gamebook type story in which they bring Robin hilariously into modern Nottingham and Sherwood Forest as it is today. I will work briefly in a class room situation to identify children's responses to Internet linked stories and oversee a hypertextually developed collaboration.

Sociology, with its cultural analysis, will find numerous areas to research within the Internet literary environment. What texts do various groups follow? What are the sociolinguistics of group net sites? If people tend to form groups of like minded others, sometimes shutting out those who do not fit the criteria of the group, what happens within a group on the Internet when there is an 'invader'? For example, in discussion groups or chatrooms or on listserves if someone new enters the group, how are they treated?

 'The group', whether it is on the Internet or in a physical setting, does not always take to someone entering the group and making suggestions on how the group should go. There is the notion of code switching when the 'intruder' attempts to upset the status quo by introducing a different interpretation of the existing code. Do these intrusions create cautionary literary responses in the group until the intruder leaves?

Philosophy will undergo a major transformation with the increasing use of the Internet. "I link therefore I exist" may replace "I am that I am" or any of the other philosophical lines that have been passed down for thousands of years. Sometime, someone will rewrite Plato with an Internet consciousness. The idea of being a good citizen will be replaced by having a good homepage, where one becomes a good or bad net-citizen. 

Women's textual expressions are finding acceptance and exploration unknown in the past. Diane Greco, speaking about the women's collaborative hypertext fiction workgroup, Hi-Pitched voices says "…interest in disjuncture and convoluted detail is for us an aesthetic composing rich fields of complexity" [quoted in Joyce, 89]. Hypertextual work is no-one's domain as literature in the past so often has been. A Russian Hyperfiction women's projects furthers this view.

How do we write about ourselves within an Internet environment? Is there a difference in our writing when we work alone or within a networked collaborative hypermedia system? Collaborative writing is being explored in many groups. One of the more involved is WAXweb, which is a hypermedia version of a film (WAX or the discovery of television among the bees); it consists of thousands of linked nodes. Another, Once Upon a Time in the Eighties was a class project at the University of Virginia. There are many, but one other, worthy of investigation is Dark Lethe, which has its own Chatrooms and a writer's area in its growing virtual world.

The significance of this study is its part in the overall Internet culture which will encourage, support and create hypertext as a form of communication that will help people from different backgrounds interact through Internet literature.