I began this exercise in hope and excitement ... days ago. That was before I discovered more tedium than I can tolerate, before I got lost in the webbiness of the Web with its endless links and dark meaningless corners, and before I had to completely rewrite this little rant because Blogger went dead 15 minutes ago for "maintenance" and I lost it all. How cute.
All those attractive little buttons in the "table" of contents of the Elec. Lit. site, I admit, made me want to dive in. I thought, Ah, maybe the great goddess Literature really can live out here in point-and-click land. And the message from Tom last week, about kicking ass as we get into the writing phase, was a good energizing way to launch. But after hours -- many hours -- of negotiating links and sites here and there, of endless reading of short little bits that seem to expand like foam caulking, the material left me mostly frustrated and scratching my head. And I'm reminded once more of what Norman Mailer said about a dozen years ago: "The Internet is the greatest waste of time since masturbation."
I don't want this to be long, and I don't want to repeat what others have said here. I was especially glad to read what Adam, Karl and Darren have written, because it can be depressing to think you're just another lonely, bitter Luddite (and really, why are Luddites disrespected anyway?). I may be a Luddite, but I'm not lonely and bitter. OK, I'm bitter but I'm not lonely.
I looked up a few of the stories, poems, dog-and-pony shows and 4th of July specials on the Elec Lit site, including most of those linked to by my fellow student bloggers (geez, Louise! Does this really make me a blogger?). In my references to the stories below, I originally had included hot links to the material. But as I said, Google's Blogger went down before I had a chance to send that hot little post to the permanent ether, and the links were lost (and I'm too lazy to re-install them). Don't worry, most of you have either seen these stories or may not care to anyway, or you know where to find them, assuming there are individuals who actually are reading this.
By the way, do people really like Google, a company that wants to take over the world? That cute little name of theirs is as comforting and reassuring as the name Big Brother.
The story I liked best is one with essentially no graphics, no media -- "Internet Text" by Alan Sondheim. The author has been writing stuff and putting it up on the Web for 12 years. It seems to me to be loosey goosey in its language and ideas, with lots of tossed-off material that is nevertheless interesting and fun to read. It's kind of maniacal, there's tons of it, but I've looked at only about 1 percent or less. No doubt I felt comfortable in what is a textual universe.
"Nio" has very cool graphics, "shockwave" media, it's called. Great potential. But the soundtrack? Apart from its musical appeal as a kind of scat singing, it left me flat. ... "Savoir-Faire" asked me to download an application. No, thanks. ... "Deviant ... Christian Shaw" was something I don't think I got at all. Don't ask me where I ended up, or even if I know what it's about. I clicked here and there and very boring things happened as a result.
"Dreamlife of Letters" by Brian Kim Stefans is good to look at but doesn't seem to have a lot going on cognitively. However, the "appropriated text" (by Rachel Blau DuPlessis) that formed the touchstone for Stevens -- which is not part of the Elec Lit site -- was very engaging for its implosion of words and sexuality and references to a million other things, none of it coherent but still enjoyable as wordplay (I have noticed a theme here; for me it's words, words, words). ... "On Lionel Kearns" -- lots of 1's and 0's, yes. I got the idea real quick. ... "Urbanalities" has cool sounds & graphics but quickly ran short of compelling interest.
Then there's "Soliloquy," the record of everything its author, Kenneth Goldsmith, uttered (as speech) during a week in his life about 10 years ago. Wow! Imagine recording your every word and then sitting down to transcribe the recordings by spending 8 hours of every day over an 8-week period --and doing this while in "residency" at a chateau in France, no less! I believe this settles it. Cyber culture has driven people mad, and they haven't got a clue. Well, I did find this gem of a line in Goldsmith's stream of the everyday mouth -- found it purely at random. It's something I'm vowing to use somewhere, somehow, some time -- "Just dropping the dog off no no no just dropping the dog off."
About the Long Tail sites ... and of what some of you said about some sites you like ...
... gotta be brief here before Google shuts me down. I know they're watching every letter I type. Probably going to wait until the next to last word and then kill this. You'll likely never see it. Shame. ...
I very much liked "Bird & Moon." Lovely. And "Toothpaste for Dinner." Strange, but my inclination is to suggest that Toothpaste for Dinner should be in print, in the "funnies," where it can be seen by thousands. ... Do I have it backwards or what? ...
The site I go to most often, my browser's Home Page -- this will tell you a lot about me -- is The New York Times. (It has to be up there near the front of the long tail.) Incidentally, I have the hard-news habit bad, but i'm breaking it ... slowly. I don't watch TV news any more and I'm reading more poetry and a little more fiction, hoping to snowball those into copious daily reading of both.
Here's a site that I like because it's a friend's, and she's different, is all I'll say. She left Alaska a month ago, driving out in the dead of winter, on her way to Alabama to take over a small (about 30-acre) farm she inherited. She's never farmed in her life, not really. In addition to a few veggies, she'll probably try to grow some weed, unless the 'Bama cops are too hard on her. She's on the poor side and needs money, so if anyone has spare change, let her know.
And I do say with all my heart, Down with dark obscure hipness.