Saturday, February 4, 2012

Cruisin' on a textual afternoon

I found the Aarseth reading a tough go, and was frankly baffled by some of the distinctions drawn - e.g. between text and script. (My graphic design background is probably tripping me up here, as these terms are used differently than in literary theory, apparently.) However, in the end I found that Aarseth had given me a framework for looking at the many issues around nonlinearity, multilinearity, and dynamic text. (Please forgive my possible misuse of these terms!)

I particularly appreciated Aarseth's point that "electronic text . . . is still a text" and that the divide between electronic and paper is not as meaningful as the divide between linearity and nonlinearity - what Aarseth refers to as "topology". Aarseth's other variates: dynamics, determinability, transiency, maneuverability, and user-functionality are all useful to me when I look at a nonlinear text.

As an example, when I view/read Cruisin', I can see that the text is dynamic and transient, but not particularly maneuverable. I can also see that as the reader/listener I don't have a role-playing function, but I do have a configurative function in that I can affect the size and speed of the display of text. Jarett raised the issue of gaming environments in another post. Gaming has the potential to lead the reader/participant into all four of the user-functionalities: explorative, role-playing, configurative, and poetic. No wonder gamers find their environments so rich and compelling.

I found myself really fascinated by the concept of the I Ching, with its non-linear form that allows readers/users to be "agents" of the text. Aarseth's statement that "the understanding (beyond trivial) of a nonlinear text can never be a consummate understanding . . . it cannot be read, only glimpsed and guessed at" rings as true for many new media texts as it does for the I Ching.

No comments:

Post a Comment