Reagan Library is an odd mixture of stories and images, voices and places, crimes and punishment, connections and disruptions, signals on, noises off, failures of memory and acts of reconstruction. It goes into some places not customary for "writing." I think of it as a space probe. I have no idea what you'll think.
Now a word from our Idiot Questioner. Is this "fiction" or is it a "game?" Exactly. As one of the inmates says: "The world is what you see and where that takes you." And where would that be? You'll find out.
This work is implemented in Hypertext Markup Language with one media extension, QuickTimeVR. At the time of this writing, recommended software is Netscape Navigator or Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.x, in combination with version 2.0 or later of Apple Computer's QuickTimeVR plug-in. Earlier versions of either browser will probably work.
If you don't have the right version of the plug-in, visit the Apple Web Site and download the latest QuickTime installer (at this time, the entire package is called QuickTime 3.0). There are installers for both Windows and MacOS; both are easy to use, and there is no charge for the software.
If you are reading this in the CD-ROM version you do not need an Internet connection. The work is entirely self-contained. If you're reading on-line, you'll want at least a 56k modem.
Ground Rules:Each page contains an image and some text.
The image is a QuickTimeVR panorama. Dragging the mouse within the QuickTime window moves the virtual camera. You can also zoom by pressing the Shift Key (in) or the Control key (out) -- though you'll find little reason to use this feature in the Library. Certain images within the panoramas are cues for hypertext links. The cursor takes on the image of a globe when it encounters one of these.
Generally, clicking on an object moves your viewpoint close to that object by replacing the current panorama. Occasionally you'll click on an object and find yourself in a different space, marked most notably by a change of color and lighting. There are four spaces in this version of the Library.
The texts that accompany the images are also multiform. Pay attention to the small squares or color bars that mark the end of each passage. They're not entirely decorative.
If you visit a page more than once, you'll notice the text has changed. Much of what you read on your first visit may seem like nonsense: in fact it's generated by a set of simple random-assembly programs. The text should become more coherent (if not more sensible) on repeated visits. Unlike most things built for the World Wide Web, this text maintains state (during a given reading, at least). By visiting all the places a sufficient number of times, you can bring the text to a final form. Yes, there is an end to it.
Note, however, that simply re-loading a page does not constitute a new visit. You must leave and land elsewhere before you can return.
Most pages contain several text links in addition to the graphical links in the QuickTime movie. Some of these links fall within the randomly-generated portion of the text. In most cases these will take you to randomly-selected pages. One link on every page has a specified destination and thus perhaps a greater claim to coherence.
Lines entirely in italics represent important messages from the Library.
More information is available in the red zone.
Reagan Library is copyright © 1999 by Stuart Moulthrop. All rights reserved.
Personal thanks to Adrian Miles, Deb Verhoeven, and the Faculty of Arts and Sciences of the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, whose Communications Studies International Fellowship made it possible to hatch this project. Thanks also to Robert Coover for encouragement and to Dimitrios Anastasopoulos and the Little Magazine for the impetus to finish.
Professional acknowledgements and warm regards to Apple Computer, in particular the QuickTime team, and to MetaCreations, whose Bryce 3D software was so obviously indispensable.
Unending gratitude to Nancy Kaplan, Sean Cohen, and the faithful of TINAC. Small is fascinating.