What is and Toward What End Do We Read Digital Literature?

Critical Writing
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Literature cannot bridge the gap between the world of the narrative and the world of the recipient. Conventional literature cannot. Digital literature can.

...what we have here is the elimination of the text, its substitution by image, sound, and action. Such operation is a common feature in digital media.

The paradigm of expression changes from creating a world in the reader's imagination based on a specific combination of letters to presenting a world directly to the audience directly to the audience through extralingual means.

By definition, digital literature must be more than just literature otherwise it is only literature in digital media.

Digital literature is only digital if it is not only digital.

In digital media, literature is digital in a double sense: It uses a small set of distinct, endlessly combinable symbols, and those symbols are now produced by binary code.

... the effect of the code -- making a word blink or tick, for instance -- is part of the 'text' and needs to be 'read' alongside the blinking, ticking word itself.

...when it comes to digital literature we need to 'read,' or let's say, to interpret, not just the text but also what happens to the text. As a rule of thumb one may say: If nothing happens to the text its [sic] not digital literature.

...when we read digital we have to shift from a hermeneutics of linguistic signs to a hermeneutics of intermedia, interactive, and processing signs. It is not just the meaning of the words that is at stake, but also the meaning of the performance of the words which, let's not forget, includes the interaction of the user with the words.

How do close readings help develop "digital literacy"--to use one of the buzzwords of digital humanities? They help insofar as digital literacy cannot be reduced to the competence in using digital technology but also entails an understanding of the language of digital media.

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Title Date Location
Reading Digital Literature 04.10.2007
Brown Univeristy Providence , RI
United States
Rhode Island US
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Eric Dean Rasmussen