A Tour of ELO's The NEXT

Abstract (in English): 

The pandemic has enhanced awareness and reliance on digital platforms. Brick and mortar museums and libraries that are having difficulties pivoting to such platforms are presently unable to share works with the public for safety reasons. Consequently, special attention is being paid to platforms that produce, protect, and promote electronic literature, such as Electronic Literature Organization’s Repository. Housing 30 collections of 2500 digital-born works, the site must be maintained, the works thoroughly and accurately described, and digital art preserved and shared with scholars, artists, and the public. In light of the pandemic, it was realized that the Repository could fill more roles than storing digital artwork and the accompanying information. It had the untapped potential of becoming a space where digital art could be studied, experienced, preserved, and shared from anywhere. In short, it would become the next generation museum, library, and preservation site for born digital literature collected by the Electronic Literature Organization (ELO), the site now known as The NEXT. This panel showcases the newly designed Repository implemented by 39 students at Washington State University Vancouver (WSUV).

In 2021, ELO in conjunction with the Electronic Literature Lab (ELL) partnered with students at WSUV to implement this new vision for The NEXT. The new site makes digital artwork easily accessible to the public from a single digital space, enhanced by SEO and ADA compliance. From here, visitors have the ability to download permitted works and view any associated media, including images, videos, visualizations, and recorded interviews with the donor. They have also developed a search function for easily finding records. To further increase accessibility, students conducted usability testing on pages within the site, which includes an About page, Donations page, documentation regarding metadata schema, and more. With these components, The NEXT has transformed from an informational space into a multimedial site that is participatory, interactive, and experiential.

The architecture of the site is built to be scalable, allowing it to grow as new donations are offered to ELO. The NEXT sets a precedent for future museums and databases to follow. Blending information with human interaction stimulates The NEXT’s use as a virtual interactive museum and library, while increasing awareness of artists and their artwork. The site will continue to be maintained by ELL for ELO, and sustained by donations to ELO and ELL. Scholars volunteering their time and labor will further refine the metadata.

The NEXT will be presented at the conference by five of the 39 students involved in the implementation stage of the project. Kathleen Zoller will act as moderator, discussing the aim of the project and the components that made it come together; Katya Farinsky will share her process regarding copyediting; Betsy Hanrahan and Sarah West will demonstrate the site’s architecture and layout; Mallory Hobson will share design decisions made for The NEXT; Preston Reed will discuss the filming and interview process.


ELO 2021: A Tour of ELO’s The NEXT, 28 May

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Record posted by: 
Milosz Waskiewicz