contents by keyword



A work, generally on a two-dimensional screen, composed to create three-dimensional effects. Three-dimensional effects, except for artists' or pop-up books, are not widely known in print literature, though they are widely used in sculpture, sound installation, and kinetic art.

Andromeda, Façade, New Word Order: Basra, Palavrador, Poemas no meio do caminho, Roulette, Screen, Trope


Work that plays by itself, meant to evoke or engage intermittent attention, as a painting or scrolling feed would; in John Cayley's words, "a dynamic linguistic wall-hanging." Such work does not require or particularly invite a focused reading session.

Ah, mémoire involuntaire no. 1, Wordscapes & Letterscapes


Kinetic work is composed with moving images and/or text but is rarely an actual animated cartoon.

Ah, 88 Constellations for Wittgenstein, Endemic Battle Collage, Fitting the Pattern, Game, game, game and again game, Wordscapes & Letterscapes, The Mandrake Vehicles, mémoire involuntaire no. 1, New Digital Emblems, Poemas no meio do caminho, Sooth, soundpoems, Still Standing, The Sweet Old Etcetera, WhereAbouts


When the supply text for a piece is not composed by the authors, but rather collected or mined from online or print sources, it is appropriated. The result of appropriation may be a "mashup," a website or other piece of digital media that uses content from more than one source in a new configuration. Appropriation has some relationship to transclusion, a way of including other content (with permission and payment) in Ted Nelson's Xanadu Project hypertext system.

Amor de Clarice, PlaintextPerformance, slippingglimpse, synonymovie, Voyage into the Unknown


Any work with an audio component, including speech, music, or sound effects.

Andromeda, Brainstrips, Chroma, Deep Surface, Entre Ville, Game, game, game and again game, Golpe de Gracia, Inanimate Alice (Episode 4), Pieces of Herself, Roulette, soundpoems, Sooth, The Sweet Old Etcetera, Tailspin, Toucher, Up Against the Screen Mother Fuckers


The augmenting or overlaying of a real, physical environment with virtual, computer-generated graphics in real time. Everyday examples include Monocle (an AR app for the iPhone and Android markets) and the yellow first-down markers in televised broadcasts of American football.



An immersive, shared virtual reality environment created using goggles and several pairs of projectors, each pair pointing to the wall of a small room. The first CAVE was developed at the University of Illinois at Chicago, which has trademarked the acronym Cave Automatic Virtual Environment (CAVE); some similar virtual environments are referred to using the term "cave," not used as an acronym. Works of electronic literature have been made for a cave, most notably at Brown University.

Screen, Up Against the Screen Mother Fuckers


A chatterbot is a computer program designed to simulate a conversation with one or more human users, usually in text. Chatterbots sometimes seem to offer intelligent responses by matching keywords in input, using statistical methods, or building models of conversation topic and emotional state. Early systems such as Eliza and Parry demonstrated that simple programs could be effective in many ways. Chatterbots may also be referred to as talk bots, chat bots, simply "bots," or chatterboxes.



Codework is a type of creative writing which in some way references or incorporates formal computer languages (C++, Perl, etc.) within the text. The text itself is not necessarily code that will compile or run, though some have added that requirement as a form of constraint.

Book and Volume, ][][ 07/08 XXtracts_, ppg256, PlaintextPerformance, Poemas no meio do caminho


A work created by more than one person.

Ah, Andromeda, Façade, Family Tree, Flight Paths, Inanimate Alice (Episode 4), The Last Performance, Palavrador, Public Secrets, Roulette, Screen, slippingglimpse, Tierra de extracción, Toucher, Trope, The Unknown, V: Vniverse


Works where the permutation of possible outputs plays a key role in the composition.

The Mandrake Vehicles, Poemas no meio do caminho, Roulette, soundpoems, This is how you will die


Art in which the concepts or ideas involved are considered the real substance of the work, as opposed to the made art object. Conceptual art may produce a physical manifestation, however. The intangibility of digital creations raises the issue of whether their art is "really" the concept and/or code that creates them, and whether their visual presence online is only some form of documentation. Since the visual dimension of a work can further vary with platform, browser, hardware, etc., these questions become acute around issues of preservation and archiving.

Basho's Frogger & Jabber, The Last Performance, Letter to Linus, Wordscapes & Letterscapes, Semantic Disturbances, soundpoems


Raymond Roussel and the Oulipo wrote literary works according to formal constraints based on literary features, such as homonymic puns. Beyond the fact that code itself is constraint based, much digital work is also based on formal constraints which may be features of visual, linguistic, or software systems. Procedural programming is based on procedure calls allowing for a modular (re-use) structure. This type of structure is also used to design and code works of online literature.

The Last Performance, ppg256


By analogy with print, work made with critical, political, or philosophical intent or effect. See Hacktivist.

Brainstrips, The Bubble Bath, 88 Constellations for Wittgenstein, Flight Paths, The Fugue Book, Golpe de Gracia, in absentia, New Digital Emblems, Palavrador, Pieces of Herself, Public Secrets, Semantic Disturbances, a show of hands, Up Against the Screen Mother Fuckers


A database is an organized collection of data. The term originated within the computer industry, but its meaning has been broadened by popular use. Within the digital arts, ways of working with a database are often used metaphorically as ways to structure works. Some works do actually involve large relational databases. Often what would be referred to as an anthology or gathering in print may be thought of as a database online.

88 Constellations for Wittgenstein Façade, The Last Performance, Poemas no meio do caminho, Reconstructing Mayakovsky, synonymovie, Voyage into the Unknown, The Unknown


By analogy with print or film, a work intending to document a life, career, or historical occurrence.

88 Constellations for Wittgenstein, Reconstructing Mayakovsky, The Unknown, Voyage into the Unknown


While arguably applying to most of the works in this collection, this keyword is more specifically used for games and interactive fiction, and in the event that the reader's bodily movement functions as a fundamental structural component of the work.

Andromeda, Book and Volume, Everybody Dies, Façade, La casa sota el temps, Separation / Séparation, Still Standing, Toucher, Universo molécula, WhereAbouts


By analogy with print, a work composed with an intent to be informative, meditative, and/or journalistic.

Brainstrips, 88 Constellations for Wittgenstein, New Digital Emblems, Public Secrets, Voyage into the Unknown


A commercial system particularly useful for vector-based animation. It was first developed and sold by Macromedia; that company has been acquired by Adobe, which currently sells Flash. See Shockwave

Amor de Clarice, Brainstrips, Deep Surface, 88 Constellations for Wittgenstein, Family Tree, Fitting the Pattern, Flight Paths, Game, game, game and again game, Golpe de Gracia, La casa sota el temps, Pieces of Herself, Poemas no meio do caminho, Public Secrets, Separation / Séparation, slippingglimpse, Tailspin, This is how you will die, Toucher, Voyage into the Unknown


In digital gaming, a game played on a general-purpose computer is often called a computer game, while a game played on a console or arcade machine is often called a video game. The importance of a video display and the visual element of these games is acknowledged in the phrase "video game." The term "computer game" more easily allows for games which display only text or which use other methods, such as sound or vibration, as their primary feedback device. Video games use some sort of input device, usually in the form of button/joystick combinations (on arcade games), a keyboard and mouse/trackball combination (computer games), a controller (console games), or some combination of these. The computer enforces a certain physics of play and provides incentives such as a score or the ability to defeat opponents. In more open-ended games, or play activities, the player is free to pursue less directed activities in a virtual universe.

Chroma, Façade, Game, game, game and again game, Golpe de Gracia, Basho's Frogger & Jabber, Inanimate Alice (Episode 4), New Word Order: Basra, Reconstructing Mayakovsky, soundpoems, This is how you will die


Works that engage the socio-political aspects of gender, race, and/or sexuality.

Chroma, Pieces of Herself, a show of hands


Generative art or media are sometimes referred to as the genetic code of artificial objects, working and producing in unique, unrepeatable ways. In experiencing a generative piece, the reader starts the process that results in the output, as opposed to watching a pre-prepared motion picture or selecting one of several pre-written texts to read.

Façade, Basho's Frogger & Jabber, The Last Performance, Palavrador, ppg256, a show of hands, slippingglimpse, synonymovie, This is how you will die


Indicates programming, modifying digital media, exploiting computer systems, and otherwise working with networked computing to further a political goal, by analogy with other sorts of activism. The term is meant to suggest disruptive senses of "hacking" along with activities such as civil disobedience, although particular artists labeled as hacktivists may not engage in illegal activities. Related concepts are "arts activism" and "prankstavism," which refer to works made to further social change.

The Bubble Bath, ][][ 07/08 XXtracts_, New Word Order: Basra, Semantic Disturbances, Up Against the Screen Mother Fuckers


Hypertext is a user-interface paradigm for displaying documents which, according to an early definition (Ted Nelson, 1970), "branch or perform on request." The most frequently discussed form of hypertext document contains automated cross-references, called hyperlinks, to other documents. Selecting a hyperlink causes the computer to display the linked document within a very short period of time. Hypertext fiction, though not the most prevalent form of e-literature, was the earliest form of e-literature recognized as such.

Amor de Clarice, Deep Surface, 88 Constellations for Wittgenstein, The Last Performance, Letter to Linus, Golpe de Gracia, Reconstructing Mayakovsky, a show of hands, Tierra de extracción, The Unknown, Voyage into the Unknown


A freestanding work in the physical environment, similar to an art installation, that uses programming and/or digital display as critical components of its creation.

The Last Performance, Still Standing


Often abbreviated IF, this term describes software simulating environments in which players use text commands to control characters and influence the environment. Works in this form can be understood as literary narratives and as computer games. In common usage, the word refers to what are also called text adventures, a type of adventure game with text-based input and output.

Book and Volume, Everybody Dies, Façade


A software technology from Sun Microsystems that encompasses the Java programming language and the virtual machine on which it runs, which can run inside a web browser. Java programs are cross-platform and come in the form of "applets," if browser-based, or "applications."

Everybody Dies, Basho's Frogger & Jabber, mémoire involuntaire no. 1, Roulette, Wordscapes & Letterscapes


A scripting language that has little in common with the similarly-named Java programming language. It runs on the client computer, like Java, but can be embedded throughout web pages. JavaScript is a registered trademark of Sun Microsystems, used under license for technology invented and implemented by Netscape.

PlaintextPerformance, Poemas no meio do caminho, Semantic Disturbances, Universo molécula


Refers to works that make use of locative technologies, such as GPS, Global Positioning System, a satellite navigation system, or RFID, Radio Frequency Identifiers, as part of their process.

Entre Ville, in absentia, La casa sota el temps, Senghor on the Rocks


Works in the spirit of audio artists who appropriate multiple tracks of music into a seamless new whole, or visual artists who detourne elements from different images to create a new image with meanings not presaged in the originals. Digital literature mash-ups often involve the use of internet standards, such as social networking sites, to create their own contents, or even an API (application programming interface) that permits the inclusion of content from different software environments.

The Bubble Bath, The Fugue Book


By analogy with print, a work drawing on and aiming to convey the experience of an individual person.

Fitting the Pattern, in absentia


A work containing multiple languages or composed in a language other than English.

Amor de Clarice, Entre Ville, Family Tree, The Fugue Book, Golpe de Gracia, In Absentia, La casa sota el temps, Palavrador, Poemas no meio do caminho, Senghor on the Rocks, Separation / Séparation, Sooth, Tierra de extracción, Universo molécula


The representation of an event or series of events in a range of genres, including prose works, static and moving images, and gestures. The nature and defining features of narrative are subjects of ongoing academic debates, with some scholars suggesting that narrative needs to show cause and effect. In this collection, narrative does not necessarily designate works that contain a causal sequence; rather, narrative is understood more generally as a technique for ordering both time and space.

Book and Volume, Chroma, Deep Surface, Façade, Flight Paths, Golpe de Gracia, in absentia, Inanimate Alice (Episode 4), La casa sota el temps, Palavrador, Reconstructing Mayakovsky, Senghor on the Rocks, a show of hands, Tierra de extracción, The Unknown


Many works of e-literature reference, are structured like, or make use of the styles of network forms such as the personal home page, the FAQ or Frequently Asked Questions list, the blog, the listserv, the commercial website, the newsfeed, the wiki, the network, or email.

Flight Paths, The Fugue Book, ][][ 07/08 XXtracts_, Poemas no meio do caminho, Senghor on the Rocks


The work does not require any interaction from the user or reader beyond accessing it, running it, and perhaps exiting the program.

Endemic Battle Collage, mémoire involuntaire no. 1, PlaintextPerformance, Up Against the Screen Mother Fuckers


By analogy with print, work made with satirical or parodic intent or effect.

Brainstrips, The Bubble Bath, Basho's Frogger & Jabber, Game, game, game and again game, Separation / Séparation, The Unknown


In performance art, the main work is the action of the artist for some interval of time. There is no art object, although performances can be documented. Much digital writing can be seen to be both performance art, when it consists of a one-time online gathering without residue; and performative, when it reflects - and reflects on - an inherent ephemerality in digitality while in fact leaving a semi-permanent cyber-object in its wake.

The Last Performance, ][][ 07/08 XXtracts_, PlaintextPerformance


Place is rethought in many ways in digital works. Issues of displacement, diaspora, positioning by satellite, cyberlocation, and re-understood geo-location are raised by the nature of the online network experience. Some of the work dealing with place references the mid-twentieth century Situationist movement.

Entre Ville, in absentia, Senghor on the Rocks


Writing native to the electronic environment is under continual construction (poiesis) by its creators and receivers. Works of electronic literature are "poietic," in this sense, and are often constructed by strategies analogous to those found in experimental print poetry, or cinema, as well as by strategies native to the digital environment.

Chroma, Endemic Battle Collage, Entre Ville, Basho's Frogger & Jabber, Poemas no meio do caminho, ppg256, slippingglimpse, Sooth, Trope, Universo molécula, Up Against the Screen Mother Fuckers, V: Vniverse, WhereAbouts


An open source "programming language and integrated development environment (IDE) built for the electronic arts and visual design communities," Processing aims to teach the basics of computer programming in a visual context. It builds on the graphical side of the Java programming language, simplifying features and creating a few new ones.

Wordscapes & Letterscapes, mémoire involuntaire no. 1, Roulette


Characterized by the revival of a style from a previous historical moment; often used to describe art, design, music, and fashion that evoke the past through imitation, quotation, or incorporation.

Endemic Battle Collage, Game, game, game and again game


A cross-platform development system for interactive digital media developed by Macromedia (now Adobe). Shockwave is often used for online game development. It offers a 3D engine rather than the vector-based, scalable graphics of Flash.

Ah, Chroma, The Mandrake Vehicles, New Digital Emblems, Sooth, synonymovie, The Sweet Old Etcetera, Tierra de extracción, V: Vniverse, WhereAbouts


A text that can be longer or shorter on demand, as defined by Ted Nelson. Usually mousing over the text will reveal additional interpolated text. This newly surfaced text, moused over in its turn, reveals yet more stretches of text. The user does not ever leave the current page..

The Mandrake Vehicles


This term is generally used to refer to a long flow of self-performing text, which may be "choreographed" to music or driven by some algorithm, that eschews images or most animation of the text itself. Young Hae-Chang Heavy Industries are noted for making text movies that maintain narrative flow, by contrast with Ambient work.

Ah, Amor de Clarice, Endemic Battle Collage, mémoire involuntaire no. 1, PlaintextPerformance, Reconstructing Mayakovsky, slippingglimpse, synonymovie


A work written and coded in such a way that it is capable, by analogy with a musical instrument, of playing numerous compositions. The reader is invited to become an expert player of the piece, for skill at manipulating it, above and beyond familiarity with how with its interface works, yields reading and viewing rewards. A closely related idea is that of the instrumental text, where an interface allows manipulations of a particular piece of writing in an interesting way.

Amor de Clarice, Deep Surface, Fitting the Pattern, New Word Order: Basra, Roulette, Screen, Still Standing, This is how you will die, V: Vniverse


A work that utilizes video as either a form of content, or as a format for documentation.

Reconstructing Mayakovsky, slippingglimpse, Sooth, Up Against the Screen Mother Fuckers


A work produced in a virtual world such as Second Life.

Palavrador, Trope


A poetic or narrative work in which the visual component takes a primary role.

Amor de Clarice, Andromeda, Everybody Dies, Family Tree, Fitting the Pattern, Inanimate Alice (Episode 4), Letter to Linus, The Mandrake Vehicles, New Digital Emblems, Pieces of Herself, slippingglimpse, The Sweet Old Etcetera, Tailspin, Toucher, V: Vniverse, Wordscapes & Letterscapes


A term used to describe works in which the user is invited to play with an experimental interface that allows for the manipulation of text more than reading.

Family Tree, soundpoems, Still Standing, Toucher