Elec­tronic Au­thor­ship, Col­lab­o­ra­tion, Com­mu­nity, and Prac­tice


Session Title:

  • Creativity as a Social Ontology

Presentation Title:

  • Elec­tronic Au­thor­ship, Col­lab­o­ra­tion, Com­mu­nity, and Prac­tice




  • Panel: Creativity as a Social Ontology

    Com­mu­nity has been a cen­tral focus of my ca­reer in the field of elec­tronic lit­er­a­ture, par­tic­u­larly in help­ing to shape and struc­ture the Elec­tronic Lit­er­a­ture Or­ga­ni­za­tion, a USA-based non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tion cen­tral to the field, and more re­cently as pro­ject leader of ELM­CIP: Elec­tronic Lit­er­a­ture as a Model of Cre­ativ­ity and In­no­va­tion and Prac­tice. I con­sider prac­ti­cal re­search and artis­tic com­mu­nity de­vel­op­ment vital to the cre­ation of a per­sis­tent en­vi­ron­ment that en­ables net­work-based cre­ative com­mu­ni­ties. When cre­ative com­mu­ni­ties and re­search com­munties are not ge­o­graph­i­cally co-lo­cated, in­sti­tu­tional iden­ti­ties, on­line pub­li­ca­tions, di­rec­to­ries, and knowl­edge bases, and in-per­son con­fer­ences, fes­ti­vals, and events pro­vide for a kind of float­ing agora that en­ables cre­ative com­mu­nity to thrive across bor­ders. At same time, my prac­tice emerges from my back­ground as a fic­tion writer. Cre­ative writ­ing is gen­er­ally if not cor­rectly con­ceived of as a soli­tary act in which col­lab­o­ra­tion plays a lesser role than in other sorts of cre­ative prac­tice, for ex­am­ple the pro­duc­tion of a staged drama or film. Both writ­ing and read­ing fic­tion are typ­i­cally un­der­stood as highly sub­jec­tive acts, and au­thors and artists are un­der­stood to “own” their ideas and works in a per­sonal way. Net­work based read­ing and writ­ing prac­tices fore­ground a num­ber of com­pli­ca­tions of sub­jec­tive writ­ing and read­ing, from com­mu­nity-based writ­ing pro­jects, to mul­ti­me­dial lit­er­ary pro­duc­tions, to rad­i­cal changes in the na­ture of the re­cep­tion and reader re­sponse process.

    None of these changes elim­i­nate “the au­thor” per se, but all force us to re­con­sider the frame of au­thor­ship and the mod­els of col­lab­o­ra­tive cre­ative lit­er­ary prac­tice en­abled by the com­puter and the net­work en­vi­ron­ment.  This pre­sen­ta­tion will dis­cuss some of the ways that elec­tronic lit­er­a­ture com­pli­cates con­cep­tions of au­thor­ship and col­lab­o­ra­tion in the con­text of its emer­gent cre­ative com­mu­nity. I will test these ideas against ex­am­ples, both from my own prac­tice as an au­thor of net­work-based fic­tion pro­jects in­clud­ing The Un­known, Kind of Blue, The Med­dle­some Pas­sen­ger, and Im­ple­men­ta­tion, all of which in­volved dif­fer­ent mod­els of col­lab­o­ra­tion, as well as re­cent col­lec­tive or col­lab­o­ra­tively au­thored elec­tronic lit­er­a­ture pro­jects in­clud­ing The Last Per­for­mance by Judd Mor­ris­sey, Mark Jef­frey, and oth­ers, the Ex­quis­ite_­Code pro­ject by Bren­dan How­ell and oth­ers, and TOC: a New-Me­dia novel by Steve Toma­sula and a team of artists and de­vel­op­ers.