Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Book Geeks: on the intersection of literature and technology

I admit it, I'm a bookgeek.  There's no nice way to put it.  I like reading more than almost any other activity (Eating comes a close second.  Reading while eating is heaven, especially if it's a handful of crunchy raw almonds...).  I'm also a techie.  Not a clever technie mind you, just someone who likes to mess about though I am a Certified Lotus Programmer (CLP to those in the know) if anyone wants credentials.  Until now I've had to keep my technie side and my literary sides distinct, but a new article on Digital Book World has convinced me to bring the geek out of the closet.  The article, written by Anne Kostick, states in no uncertain terms that the authors of the future will need to be technologically minded, coming out of their garrisons to collaborate with programmers and designers.  I've always maintained that my programming day job is all semantics - no 1s and 0s for me.  It's about translating the inchoate into the concrete - turning fuzzy desire into a working package.  That's reasonably literary, at least the way I look at it. 

Writing for me today, is such a different process from what it was back some 30 years ago when I first started writing poetry seriously.  I only use my pen to sign things.  I research almost simultaneously while I'm writing, looking for inspiration, images, meanings or chasing threads to pull into my work. You won't catch me talking or writing in binary - I'm just not good at that.  It's still all about semantics for me, whatever I do - whether on a page or on a screen. But I'm surely glad someone is able to manage the back end coding.  And I take Kostick's well made point that the notion of a 'digital work' is continuing to morph.  The immersive experience isn't, and won't, but how to get a reader there might well continue to change.  The geek in me is excited.

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