Panel 13: Cyborgs Crafting for Cyborgs: Digital Creators and Our Audiences
R. Lyle Skains, Stuart Moulthrop and Jeneen Naji
As digital technology has become ubiquitous, innovation has become widespread, unpredictable, and, eventually, corporatised. Yesterday’s innovators (the sites to find out-of-print books, post a personal video, or exchange creative writing) are today’s internet juggernauts – and marketplace controllers. Yet Amazon, YouTube, and WattPad, and others like them, are not the sole sources for digital creativity. Like every technical invention that has become manufactured and capitalised, the Internet and its digital tools and platforms continue to provide inspiration, niches, and audiences for the wildflowers of digital creativity.
In Publication of the otherwise unpublishable, Lyle Skains examines creative digital experiments emerging online with no clear provenance, pathway, or visible intent at commercial publication. By looking at fictional Craigslist ads, alternative-reality Twitter feeds and seeded Reddit posts, she asks what drives creators to craft these often intensely imagined-works and leave them in pockets of the Internet?
In Work, Pay, and Pathwork, Stuart Moulthrop reconsiders Espen Aarseth’s framing of ‘ergodic literature’ through the lens of Melissa Kagen’s theory of ‘wandering games.’ Where Aarseth’s key terms were ergon/hodos, ‘work’ and ‘path’, Kagen offers a fourfold schema of work, colonialism, gender, and death. Looking at the post-commercial tradition of interactive fiction and Twine, Moulthop speculates on how the wandering of games and gamers might arrive at a different creative space where work is reinscribed as craft. He ends by offering some speculations on what that transformation might mean, particularly in the context of updated “end of work” debates.
In Instapoetry and digital hermeneutics, Jeneen Naji develops a theory of interpretation or meaning-making for Instapoetry by not only recognising the possibility of non-human agents becoming rhetorical actors within a posthuman framework but also recognising the loss of autonomy of the human interpreter. Interpretation, as in traditional poetry, remains key to the digital poetry experience and can be seen therefore to take place on the human and non-human side, which is why this paper delves into hermeneutics to unpack these processes.