Chapter 1: What's going within the literary field?

The literary field is subjected to a process of transformation.
What is the concrete impact of the digital revolution in literature?

- Literary scene and book market are in motion.
- The conditions are changing with:

  • new players
  • new distribution channels
  • the decreasing importance of the Gutenberg Galaxis

Books     and    Internet become contrasts.
stable          ↔  volatile
traditional    ↔   modern
haptic          ↔  vague / impalpable
deep            ↔  superficial
continuous   ↔  disjointed
elitist           ↔  democratic
reel             ↔  virtual

But: Internet itself is a genuine literary medium !

William Gibson
The word Cyperspace first appears in a story of William Gibson: Burning Chrome, 1987:
„I knew every chip in Bobby's simulator by heart; it looked like your workaday Ono-Sendai VII, the "Cyberspace Seven", but I'd rebuilt it so many times that you'd have had a hard time finding a square millimeter of factory circuitry in all that silicon."

Neil Stephenson

Neil Stephenson's cyberpunk novel „Snow Crash" from 1990 describes a double fiction of a  real world and a metaverse (called the Black Sun), with fluid interfaces between. It mentioned for the first time an "Avatar" to mean a virtual body - taken form Hindu religion.
Stephenson's description of the virtual 3D space encouraged software programmers to create the Internet language VRML (virtual reality markup language) - that is capable to open such virtual spaces.

Raymond Federman
Raymond Federmans aesthetic of „pla(y)giarism" is a analogue version of the copy/paste: „The great playgiarizers of all time, Homer, Shakespeare, Rabelais, Diderot, Rimbaud, Proust, Beckett, and Federman have never pretended to do anything else than playgiarizing."

Playgiarism = intentional, playful re-use of existing source material. Federman itself was a great playgiarist, he remixed in his works the different sources and versions of his own personal narrative to form that he terms a „playful self-appropriation".
link Raymond Federman's work (in german)


- The digital media are based on code.
- The communication channel internet is strongly based on language and text.

Internet is both a substitute and an extension

The answer is twofold:

  • remaining analogue
  • going digital