Afterpaper by Deena Larsen
for Media Morphs the Messenger 98
A Treasurehold of Ideas
The second hypertext writers workshop: Media Morphs the Messenger,
transformed at least one messenger from a quiet, reasonably focused hypertext writer to a
whirlwind of ideas and gasps at the genie-like treasures in hyperliterature. As Bill Bly
(and others) said, we conjure, seduce, engage the reader in our texts. This workshop
certainly did that for me--and more.
So how to describe the workshop? I asked people to talk about what they will bring from it
to their work--which is as good a place to start as any. The workshop addressed my issue
of closure by describing how writers interact with the reader. Closure in this context
takes on a different meaning--it is not how the work ends but how the work relates to
itself and the reader that is important. I found that Stone Moons is a complete world--and
is nearing completion. I do not have to follow each tiny thread, just as we do not follow
each thread in a linear story.
I will draw all of the nodes to the center core of the work--Sarah's mythic struggle with
the moon to keep her daughter. As Marjorie Luesebrink pointed out, the Jane space in the
middle of the piece is physical and psychic center of Stone Moons--and I will work with
that notion of center.
But this is not the place to end. The workshop brought together a treasurehouse full of
minds, each irreparably addicted to hypertext. Hearing how authors approach content,
structure, time, closure, hidden spaces, reviews, reader interaction, and usability
demonstrated the incredible diversity of the hypertext community. Discussing issues showed
the many common issues underlying our work and provided fresh insights into grappling with
The presentations provided an in-depth look at developments in hypertext content and
structure. Julianne Chatelain's usability demo showed how we can beta-test writing in much
the same way as we beta-test new software. Jill Walker's use of Jane spaces and many
authoritative voices (each proclaiming to be the true one) vividly portrayed the use of
contrapuntal themes to make one melodious whole. Marjorie's work in graphics revealed how
meaning spills over from the text and colors the page. Bill Bly's work showed how a map
can traverse memory and themes as well as distance. I need to take the rest of the year
off just to think about all of the ideas whirling through our discussion.
Perhaps the greatest treasure is the groundwork for future conferences and workshops. The
third workshop, the Messenger Morphs the Media, will be proposed for HT99 in Darmstadt
Germany. We are working on a 4 day workshop for system developers and writers in May 99 in
Denver Colorado. If you would like to participate in these, please contact me at email@example.com.