Creative Work
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BEAST. The Web fosters, and depends on, utter transience of attention. Extending television's effects through its much-vaunted interactivity, it has reduced writing to "content" squeezed between gaud and flash and irrelevance. In Beast, the reader directs the progress of a single text by interacting with it and its interior world of fake-3-D images. Beast tries to tap the interactive possibilities of the medium while allowing the text to be seen as a whole; the eye is a hypertext engine more sophisticated than any we could devise. But Beast also subverts itself through jarring messages and the system's periodic takeover of its own functions. A nightmarish, superficially dehumanizing system, Beast decocts much that is terrifying and unpleasant about computer technology, and about society and ourselves as the computer has built us. But this monstrosity has a humanizing core, the text, that speaks to the anxieties the system produces. Beast attempts to highlight the dichotomy between the ugliness of computer technology and its almost medieval beauty, that archaic and authentically primitive quality of the Web-wide world that has erected itself among us so suddenly, and that rests on so little besides marketplace forces.

(Source: Author's description for 1998 Virtual Worlds conferenc)

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Scott Rettberg